Dreams and dreaming

Came across this from more than ten years ago, before I’d ever heard of blogging (had anyone heard of blogging in 1999?). Clearly I had been reading Lewis Thomas. On dreams and dreaming:

May 16, 1999

I am alone in the house, or, might as well be.  My face feels warm, as though radiating energy stored from the sun today.

I linger on the edge of sleep, images well up in my relaxed consciousness like giant gar rising to the surface of Cedar Creek.  A water moccasin drapes silently among the twigs, unmoving.  Sun and shadows dapple brown water.  A red lizard embraces a green one, eddies form around my paddle, a dripping sound mingles with bird song.  A daddy-long-legs touches my hand and I awake with a jerk, my hand tingling.

If I could play the instrument of consciousness like dreams can, resonating in the depths of being, singing the music of life’s history, drawing up the harmonies of ancient ancestral memories, I should be remembered above Shakespeare and Homer and Milton.

But dreams are wild things, unharnessed and unharnessable, universal, archetypal, and yet completely individual, custom-made entities, capable of setting to music the diverse beings that are me–the bacteria, mitochondria, and the cells that carry the ancient coding that still remembers the taste of primordial soup.  Of all entities, perhaps the dream is the one that understands most fully the inter-being of all that is.  A dream weaves itself out of the fabric of individual experience, current events, unremembered memories, personal ancestry, evolutionary memory, and primal being.  It subsists on energy gleaned from the sun, stored in muscles, and gathered from bean soup digesting in my small intestine.  If it serves a purpose for me, it serves the purpose of reminding me of these interconnections and allowing me, if I try, to imbibe of what it draws up from deep wells of ancient wisdom.  But I am inclined to think that the dream, like the bacteria in my gut and the mitochondria in my cells, is a separate entity existing for its own ends and living in symbiotic harmony with the consciousness I call me.

This passage is its own witness–the dream expresses its individuality as I lie on the brink, once more, of sleep.  A canoe sounds like water beneath me, dark creatures rise to creek’s surface, larger than I’ve ever seen, tribal sounds beat from the cypress woods around me and mingle with bird calls I’ve never heard.  Everything moves despite me, I cannot stop the flow of the creek nor the drift of the canoe, I do not even know whether I can move myself, nor whether I exist as something separate from the canoe and the creek and the tribal beating and the monstrous cypress trees rising from the depths of the swamp to touch the sky.  I am comforted, and slip at last into deep, all-encompassing unconsciousness.

One thought on “Dreams and dreaming”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook