new worlds

I usually avoid writing up dreams where my recall of the central thrust of the dream is poor. Here, I thought I’d give it a little shot.

The order of events is hazy. I often wonder if this is because time is a more fluid medium in a dream state. Conversely, I often wonder whether our waking sense of time is a highly constructed phenomenon, far removed from something more fundamental. In light of my experience with non-ordinary states, some of which have twisted the notion of time beyond recognition – or obliterated it altogether – I also wonder if the constraints of our waking sense of time are there to protect us from something far, far too large to experience directly.

I remember being in a four-wheel drive with three other people, at night. I am sat in the back. The driver is an older man, perhaps around 60, and resembles two men I know, a personal friend and a youtube personality.

We are moving slowly down a dirt road at a steep angle. The road appears to skirt what looks like a medieval village. Earthen buildings, turrets, lanterns burning.

Our vehicle jerks suddenly and begins to roll over itself. The felt sensation of this is very distinct and intense. I feel my body spinning in space. I hear the crunching of metal, and the shattering of glass. I consciously wonder how I can feel this so clearly and why my affect is so calm. 

The details that follow are incredibly emotionally complex and existentially strange, and I am working from both limited recall and a lack of appropriate language to express what I experienced.

We, apparently the passengers from the car, are sat in a small semi-circle of chairs. A group counsellor sits in front of us. We are inside a large hall with a high-ceiling, furnished with various tables, bookcases and the like, akin to a large reading hall in a library. I recognise one good friend in the group, but there is a strong sense that we all know each other and have a deep history.

There is a peculiar quality about the context for our meeting that I cannot duly articulate now. There’s a palpable sense that each of us, by virtue of some shared process – perhaps the crash – have undergone fundamental changes in our nature, each of us different from the other. More than just our own nature, it’s as if the very paradigms within which we each now separately exist have deviated from what you might call “regular” reality – our laws of physics, our biology, our social paradigm, our logic, and somehow the purpose of our lives. We seem to have taken on dramatically shifted states of awareness and existence that have imbued us simultaneously with special powers and very particular problems that require that we be treated with special care and attention.

Despite our shared history, our divergent dynamics create a tension in the group. Each of us is effectively coming to terms with his own new outlook, which is not only at odds with consensus reality but also with our fellow group members. Before long the group becomes unstable.

On top of the typical distortion of time that we can encounter in the dream state, this dream makes brief explicit reference to abnormalities in time. In planning an event with one of the group, I realise I need to factor in that we are literally operating to different clocks.

Our situation appears to be acknowledged by other people in this unusual new world. Indeed, it appears that we are of special interest and that there is a team of people working to help us adjust. They feel benevolent, but not in a soft, angelic way – they are professional and focused, as if they belong to a government or security agency. At one point I am pulled aside by two of these men. They are very professionally dressed. They advise me of an opportunity available to me, perhaps related to a romantic relationship.

(In attempting to recall this dream afterwards, at this point I jumped to the end to try and work backwards.)

I remember being with another person, perhaps one of the group, wandering through the hallways of a luxurious building. Something like I imagine the Ritz would look. There are many doorways, some of which feel instinctively unsafe. It’s as if each leads to its own separate reality with all the unusual shifts in physics, time, and meaning, some so altered as to be incompatible with our own survival.

At the end of the corridor we find a very narrow, tall doorway. A door is hung from each side, the two opening out in the middle. Each is barely 30cm wide, and rises around 5 metres to the ceiling. We enter into an equally narrow entry hallway which is playing host to a very glamorous, sophisticated party. It has the air of a 1950s gangster soiree, dark, sultry, theatrical… long cigarettes, garters, fedoras.

Somehow nobody notices our arrival. Not far behind us come a number of officials, some sort of police. As they enter, the organisers of the party rush through a doorway at the end of the hallway. The authorities question whether everybody at the party is “the way they’re supposed to be”. The organisers respond “There’s nobody too (something), or (something)”, running off a list of unwelcome characteristics. The strong sense is that each room may only be visited by people of a particular orientation of consciousness.

Meanwhile we duck unnoticed through the door at the far end of the hallway and immediately up a narrow stairwell that dog legs to the left. At the top is a door to the organisers’ private office. I notice a plaque on the door displaying curious words, but, as is typical, the written word rarely makes it out of the dream state.

We enter the office. There is a sense of danger – what if the organisers return? The room is oddly shaped, somewhat triangular with an elevated arrangement of large leather chairs along the diagonal, akin to the front of a courtroom. The fit-out is surprisingly plain and worn.

In one corner, positioned rather awkwardly, is a small door in the wall. It is fitted with numerous locks, however when I pull the handle the door opens. It is, in fact, a safe. Initially there appears little of interest inside. However, on closer inspection I notice wads of cheques printed with images similar to British currency. I also notice a stack of standard British currency. As I begin shoving these into my backpack, the person with me enquiries “Is that money? We could take it with us, couldn’t we?”, to which I think to myself Well yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Regrettably, the central thrust of the dream is too slippery to grasp. It revolved around this therapy group and our interactions with each other. There was something very jarring, on the one hand feeling so distinct from each other, and on the other feeling so related as if we could be multiple facets of the one person. 

But the overall other-worldliness of the dream is what is so vexing. The sense of being somehow superhuman, and this bringing with it both special qualities and painful sensitivities, both a sense of power and a sense of alienation and loneliness.

Interestingly, this reflects a notion I’ve been wanting to write about at some point, namely the mixed blessing of my dream life. I’ll come to that topic another day.