Thursday, 21 January 2016


A contemplative evening led to a restless night.
The sort where you twist and turn, throw the covers off and pull them back on, continually shift your sleeping position and your head on the pillow; in short suffer a mild bout of insomnia before seeming to drift into the land of nod and the beginnings of a very strange dream.
Write it down, people say. But I think they mean when I immediately wake, and not sometime during the course of the next day. Why would you keep a pen and pad beside your bed? For this purpose, you imbecile. Yes, but even if I did, I wouldn't think to reach for it straight away. Who has the time or the mental capacity for that matter when your brain's coming to? Obviously not you.
And in case you're wondering, this conversation is not aimed directly at you, the reader. It's an internal dialogue being held between I assume the left and right hemisphere. I can't think who else would be doing the talking... unless it's my stomach, the seat of emotion, conversing with my soul, wherever the latter lodges.
Anyhow, what was I saying?
Ah yes, dreams and how to catch them. How I try to catch those that I can't shake, those that made a lasting impression the following day, but even then it's hard to convey what I felt and what my inward eye saw. Words cannot help in this situation, written or spoken. They fail to adequately express what I want: the realness, the lucidness, the semi-awakened state. For that's what I was: semi-awake.
Can then what I'm about to describe be considered a dream?
Wasn't it more an hallucination?
How can you judge when I haven't begun?
Good question, although I will say that unlike your run-of-the-mill dreams or vivid but rapidly fading imprints I had no need to claw back this vision. The memory of it stayed; in fact it lingered for several hours.
That particular night, after much lying on my back and staring vacantly at the ceiling or contorting like a circus act, I curled up in the foetal position on my right side and finally felt the familiar drag of sleep. Sweet, delicious sleep... much longed for sleep...
With my eyes closed, as you would imagine, my mind, without any preliminary unconsciousness, instantly illustrated me on that brink: in a longboat, sitting upright as if I were the Lady of Shalott on my way to Camelot, minus the watery surrounds. Instead, the boat was laboriously climbing a steep slope on a mechanised track; clanking and groaning with every intermittent pause and renewed effort. Ahead, the peak and a patch of milky sky, with high ochre rocky formations on either side. Of course, it occurred to me that this was a theme park ride, although I had no basis for that assumption, but still I had little fear of the resultant plunge. I was ready for it. I welcomed it for I realised the deep pool of sleep would break that eventual dive.
In the instant that was about to happen I felt a light pressure on my crossed arms, a pressure that I was very aware came from outside this dream, and synchronous voices imploring me to “Wake up! Wake up!”
I grumbled aloud: Why now?! with other words of complaint I will omit, despite knowing I was talking to thin air, there was nobody there, yet the urgency to comply was unmistakeable. The mischief had been made, the trick had been played, if that's what it was, and I'd unwittingly fulfilled the assignation.
The moment of sleep for that night teasingly lost much to the delight of some imps.

Picture Credit: The Lady of Shalott, 1888, by J W Waterhouse