Chapter 10 - Dreams

(Main character walks into a white building - with stained glass windows - and approaches a man sitting in a chair.)

Waking Life: Chapter 10 - DreamsHey, how's it going?

You know, they say that dreams are real only as long as they last. Couldn't you say the same thing about life? See, there's a lot of us that are out there that are mapping the mind-body relationship, of dreams. We're called the oneironauts. We're the explorers of the dream-world. Really, it's just about the two opposing states of consciousness which don't really oppose, at all. See, in the waking world, the neural system inhibits the activation of the vividness of memories. And this makes evolutionary sense. See you'd be maladapted for the perceptual image of a predator to be mistaken for the memory of one, and vice-versa. If the memory of a predator conjured up a perceptual image, we would be running off to the bathroom every time we had a scary thought. So you have these serotonic neurons that inhibit hallucinations that they themselves are inhibited during REM sleep. See this allows dreams to appear real, while preventing competition from other perceptual processes. This is why dreams are mistaken for reality. To the functional system of neural activity that creates our world, there is no difference between dreaming a perception and an action, and actually the waking perception and action.

***

(A guy is playing a ukelele.)

I had a friend once who told me that the worst mistake that you can make is to think you are alive, when you're really asleep in life's waiting room. The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams. 'Cause if you can do that you can do anything. Did you ever have a job that you hated? Worked really hard at? A long, hard day at work, finally you get to go home, get in bed, close your eyes, and immediately you wake up and realize that the whole day at work had been a dream? It's bad enough that you sell your waking life for ... for minimum wage, but now they get your dreams for free.

***

(Main character sees a friend sitting down in a chair.)

Hey man, what are you doing here?

I fancy myself the social lubricator of the dream world, helping people become lucid a little easier. You know, cut all that fear and anxiety stuff and just rock and roll.

By becoming lucid you mean just knowing that you're dreaming, right?

Yeah. And then you can control it. They're more realistic and less bizarre than non-lucid dreams.

You know, I just woke from a dream. It wasn't a typical dream. It seemed more like I'd walked into an alternate universe or something.

Yup, it's real. I mean, technically it's a phenomenon of sleep, but you can have so much damn fun in your dreams. And of course everyone knows fun rules.

Yeah.

So what was going on in your dream?

Oh, a lot of people, a lot of talking. You know, some of it was kind of absurdist, like from a strange movie or something. Mostly it was just people going off about whatever, really intensely. I woke up wondering where did all this stuff come from?

You can control that you know.

Do you have these dreams all the time?

Hell, yeah. I'm always going to make the best of it. But the trick is, you got to realize that you're dreaming in the first place. You got to be able to recognize it. You got to be able to ask yourself, "Hey man, is this a dream?" See, most people never ask themselves that when they're awake, or especially when they're asleep. Seems like everyone's sleep-walking through their waking state, or wake-walking through their dreams. Either way, they're not going to get much out of it.

The thing that snapped me into realizing I was dreaming was, uh, was my digital clock. I couldn't really read it. It was like the circuitry was all screwed up or something.

Yeah, that's real common. And small printed material is pretty tough too. Very unstable. Another good tip-off is trying to adjust light levels. You can't really do that. If you see a light switch nearby, turn it on and off and see if it works. That's one of the few things you can't do in a lucid dream. What the hell. I can fly around, have an interesting conversation with Albert Schweitzer. I can explore all these new dimensions of reality, not to mention I can have any kind of sex I want, which is way cool. So I can't adjust light levels. So what?

But that's like one of the things that you do to test if you're dreaming or not, right?

Yeah, like I said, you can totally train yourself to recognize it. I mean just hit a light switch every now and then. If the lights are on, and you can't turn them off, then most likely you're dreaming. And then you can get down to business. And believe me, it's unlimited. Hey, you know what I've been working on lately?

What's that?

Oh man, it's way ambitious, but I'm getting better at it. You're going to dig this. Three-sixty vision, man. I can see in all directions. Pretty cool, huh?

Yeah, man. Well, I got to go man.

Okay, later man. Super profundo on the early eve of your day.

What's that mean?

Well, you know, I've never figured it out. Maybe you can. This guy always whispers it in my ear. Louis. He's a reoccurring dream character.

(Main character turns the light switch on and off as he's leaving - 4 and a half times - and the light stays on. Other guy shrugs his shoulders. Main character begins and continues floating through to the next part.)

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