Chapter 18 - Trapped in a Dream

(A guy is playing a pinball machine, seemingly the same guy who rode with him in the back of the boat car. This part is played by Richard Linklater, aka, the director.)

Waking Life: Chapter 18 - Trapped in a DreamHey, man.

Hey.

Weren't you in a boat car? You know, the guy, the guy with the hat? He gave me a ride in his car, or boat thing, and you were in the back seat with me?

I mean, I'm not saying that you don't know what you're talking about, but I don't know what you're talking about.

No, you see, you guys let me off at this really specific spot that you gave him directions to let me off at, I get out, and end up getting hit by a car, but then, I just woke up because I was dreaming, and later than that, I found out that I was still dreaming, dreaming that I'd woken up.

Oh yeah, those are called false awakenings. I used to have those all the time.

Yeah, but I'm still in it now. I, I can't get out of it. It's been going on forever, I keep waking up, but, but I'm just waking up into another dream. I'm starting to get creeped out, too. Like I'm talking to dead people. This woman on TV's telling me about how death is this dreamtime that exists outside of life. I mean, (desperate sigh) I'm starting to think that I'm dead.

I'm gonna tell you about a dream I once had. I know that's, when someone says that, then usually you're in for a very boring next few minutes, and you might be, but it sounds like, you know, what else are you going to do, right? Anyway, I read this essay by Philip K. Dick.

What, you read it in your dream?

No, no. I read it before the dream. It was the preamble to the dream. It was about that book, um Flow My Tears the Policeman Said. You know that one?

Uh, yeah yeah, he won an award for that one.

Right, right. That's the one he wrote really fast. It just like flowed right out of him. He felt he was sort of channeling it, or something. But anyway, about four years after it was published, he was at this party, and he met this woman who had the same name as the woman character in the book. And she had a boyfriend with the same name as the boyfriend character in the book, and she was having an affair with this guy, the chief of police, and he had the same name as the chief of police in his book. So she's telling him all of this stuff from her life, and everything she's saying is right out of his book. So that's totally freaking him out, but, what can he do?

And then shortly after that, he was going to mail a letter, and he saw this kind of, um, you know, dangerous, shady looking guy standing by his car, but instead of avoiding him, which he says he would have usually done, he just walked right up to him and said, "Can I help you?" And the guy said, "Yeah. I, I ran out of gas." So he pulls out his wallet, and he hands him some money, which he says he never would have done, and then he gets home and thinks, wait a second, this guy, you know, he can't get to a gas station, he's out of gas. So he gets back in his car, he goes and finds the guy, takes him to the gas station, and as he's pulling up at the gas station, he realizes, "Hey, this is in my book too. This exact station, this exact guy. Everything."

So this whole episode is kind of creepy, right? And he's telling his priest about it, you know, describing how he wrote this book, and then four years later all these things happened to him. And as he's telling it to him, the priest says, "That's the Book of Acts. You're describing the Book of Acts." And he's like, "I've never read the Book of Acts." So he, you know, goes home and reads the Book of Acts, and it's like uncanny. Even the characters' names are the same as in the Bible. And the Book of Acts takes place in 50 A.D., when it was written, supposedly. So Philip K. Dick had this theory that time was an illusion and that we were all actually in 50 A.D., and the reason he had written this book was that he had somehow momentarily punctured through this illusion, this veil of time, and what he had seen there was what was going on in the Book of Acts.

And he was really into Gnosticism, and this idea that this demiurge, or demon, had created this illusion of time to make us forget that Christ was about to return, and the kingdom of God was about to arrive. And that we're all in 50 A.D., and there's someone trying to make us forget that God is imminent. And that's what time is. That's what all of history is. It's just this kind of continuous, you know, daydream, or distraction.

And so I read that, and I was like, well that's weird. And than that night I had a dream and there was this guy in the dream who was supposed to be a psychic. But I was skeptical. I was like, you know, he's not really a psychic, you know I'm thinking to myself. And then suddenly I start floating, like levitating, up to the ceiling. And as I almost go through the roof, I'm like, "Okay, Mr. Psychic. I believe you. You're a psychic. Put me down please." And I float down, and as my feet touch the ground, the psychic turns into this woman in a green dress. And this woman is Lady Gregory.

Now Lady Gregory was Yeats' patron, this, you know, Irish person. And though I'd never seen her image, I was just sure that this was the face of Lady Gregory. So we're walking along, and Lady Gregory turns to me and says, "Let me explain to you the nature of the universe. Now Philip K. Dick is right about time, but he's wrong that it's 50 A.D. Actually, there's only one instant, and it's right now, and it's eternity. And it's an instant in which God is posing a question, and that question is basically, 'Do you want to, you know, be one with eternity? Do you want to be in heaven?' And we're all saying, 'No thank you. Not just yet.' And so time is actually just this constant saying 'No' to God's invitation. I mean that's what time is. I mean, and it's no more 50 A.D. than it's two thousand and one. And there's just this one instant, and that's what we're always in."

And then she tells me that actually this is the narrative of everyone's life. That, you know, behind the phenomenal difference, there is but one story, and that's the story of moving from the "no" to the "yes." All of life is like, "No thank you. No thank you. No thank you." then ultimately it's, "Yes, I give in. Yes, I accept. Yes, I embrace." I mean, that's the journey. I mean, everyone gets to the "yes" in the end, right?

Right.

So we continue walking, and my dog runs over to me. And so I'm petting him, really happy to see him, you know, he's been dead for years. So I'm petting him and I realize there's this kind of gross oozing stuff coming out of his stomach. And I look over at Lady Gregory, and she sort of coughs. She's like [cough] [cough] "Oh, excuse me." And there's vomit, like dribbling down her chin, and it smells really bad. And I think, "Well, wait a second, that's not just the smell of vomit," which is, doesn't smell very good, "that's the smell of like dead person vomit." You know, so it's like doubly foul. And then I realize I'm actually in the land of the dead, and everyone around me is dead. My dog had been dead for over ten years, Lady Gregory had been dead a lot longer than that. When I finally woke up, I was like, whoa, that wasn't a dream, that was a visitation to this real place, the land of the dead.

So what happened? I mean how did you finally get out of it?

Oh man. It was just like one of those like life altering experiences. I mean I could never really look at the world the same way again, after that.

Yeah, but I mean like how did you, how did you finally get out of the dream? See, that's my problem. I'm like trapped. I keep, I keep thinking that I'm waking up, but I'm still in a dream. It seems like it's going on forever. I can't get out of it, and I want to wake up for real. How do you really wake up?

I don't know, I don't know. I'm not very good at that anymore. But, um, if that's what you're thinking, I mean you, you probably should. I mean, you know if you can wake up, you should, because you know someday, you know, you won't be able to. So just, um ... But it's easy. You know. Just, just wake up.

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