Friday, 5 January 2018

Experiencing dream remnants

If you wake up in the morning and get out of bed at the usual time, but then get back into bed in the afternoon to take a nap half-way through the day, scraps from the residues of the previous night’s dream return to your waking mind. It’s just shards and threads of the whole of that imaginary conflict, those scenes that came in the hours or minutes before you woke, in that state of sleep that is most conducive to dreaming.

Images and feelings from the night before flit across your consciousness as they are triggered in memory and evoked back into mind through the stimulation deriving from the familiar feel of the pillow against the side of your head, your cheek, and by the equally-familiar odour of the sheets in your nostrils. You are no longer standing or sitting upright as you normally are during your waking hours. Your now-horizontal body fits neatly into the familiar mass of the mattress.

Curled up in your regular position, shaped something like a mogul skier, your thighs pressed together companionably, your feet lined up in tandem (the arch of the bottom foot touching the top of the foot above) – and with your hand nestled between your pillow and the sheet – you become aware of your slow breathing and of that other interior rhythm: your eternal heartbeat. Relaxed and recumbent you experience a familiar feeling of contentment.

A comfortable mass lies at the core of your stomach, pressing up against the barrier at the entrance to your oesophagus. You feel a fulness at the back of your throat. A sense of well-being seems to be on the verge of breaking out of your body like a cry. You might also feel a pang at the side of your abdomen near your stomach as something unexpected happens there, and a sensation replying to it at the tip of the thumb of your right hand where it lies upturned on the sheet. The perimeter of your stomach shifts each time you breathe as your diaphragm pushes out, displacing slightly the contents of your abdomen and making you aware of the sheet resting on top of you. It is summer, and the bedroom is warm.

You realise that this is your normal physical state. Married with the remnants of the previous night’s dream, the array of sensations you experience colour them with a hue different from when the dream was first real. You feel unutterably alive and the dream-fragments mingle with the feeling to make you light-headed as you lie awake in bed willing sleep to return despite the unpropitious hour. The blind is drawn over the window though sound enters from the city in the form of restrained mechanical moans, hums and knocks emanating from equipment operating on the building site up the street where they are putting up a block of flats.

But you might sense the effect of something else external like a tonic on your waking mind that contains deep significance yet that can hardly be captured in any vessel other than a dream, although of course it’s impossible to fairly resume a dream once it has been shattered by dawn. There’s no mechanism in existence that can knit together the broken extremities of dreams that lie on either side of the waking interval. You cannot make a longer dream out of such loose ends and fragmented beginnings as remain after sleep is over, not even when you lie down for your customary daytime nap. Not that you remembered the dream to a degree that made you want to revisit it. It just came back to you now.

And you wouldn’t want to live inside a dream anyway, they are too burdened with fear and loathing. Strange adversaries coexist alongside unimaginably-difficult tasks, and stubborn things that had been consigned to history come back to haunt you with a vengeance, like maths exams completed in real life long-ago and never regretted for their passing. But these imaginary visitations are yet replete with meaning, which is something our day-to-day lives always seem to lack. Because experiencing the remnants of dreams during the daytime reminds us of such losses it is a gift.

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