So anyway, weird stuff I dream about. Well, by far the weirdest thing about my dreams is that there's always some part of my brain that just...doesn't...quite...buy it. Yes, that's right; not only am I reality-based, I'm aggressive about it. Ever have that dream where you're in college (it's usually college; sometimes it's high school) and you're trying to find some class that you somehow haven't been able to get to the whole semester? Well, when I have that one, I'll be frantically going through my stuff looking for my stupid schedule so I can at least find out when this class is, or hunting for the bookstore with the totally useless campus map in hopes of locating a textbook in which I'm now a minimum of three weeks behind, or wandering around in a building that I know has this class in it someplace, and this part of my brain will suddenly go, "Holdonasec. I'm almost positive that I'm fortysomething years old, married, a homeowner and hold down a responsible job." Sometimes I'll argue with this part of my brain, because in this dream I don't remember the intervening twenty-odd years between college and now, but more often something else happens; I wake up. And I blink, look around the room, and say to myself something along the lines of "Well, I guess that was right," before I fall asleep again and go back to the campus map and the useless schedule and the building with the M.C. Escher hallways.
It's a mental state called lucid dreaming, and in some religious traditions it's considered a blessed state. Basically, it means that you know you're dreaming while you're dreaming. I usually don't get quite that far, but I do get lucid enough to know that there's Something Wrong With This Picture. And I sometimes experience the side effects, like sleep paralysis (waking up unable to move; that is not fun, but it goes away quickly if you start small, like wiggling your fingers, instead of trying to, say, sit up or kick off the blankets). According to Joan, I'm sometimes prone to waking up yelling my head off, which must be a real treat for her and the cats. I can always tell I've done this if I'm awake and there are no cats in bed with me. I always sleep with a minimum of two cats, one sprawled across my hip and the other one by my feet. Apparently I also sometimes kick in my sleep. Sometimes a silent night is not very silent around our place.
By far the oddest permutation of this lucid-dreaming thing is the sex dream. You know the one. No, don't tell me about it; I'm not gonna tell you about mine, either. Let's just say that mine never end well. Just when things start to get interesting with the man/woman/fantasy creature, I suddenly remember I'm married and start apologizing. "I'm so sorry. I just can't be doing this. I have to go home now." And I get up and leave, even if I'm an ant and the landscape is some distant planet. I'm terrible with directions in my own known universe, but somehow I'm going to figure out where home is and go there, where I'm going to explain myself to Joan and apologize profusely. What more often happens is I wake up. Minus cats. Damn, it just happened again.
When I was about 26 I had a dream I'll never forget. (There were no men/women/fantasy creatures in this dream, nor were there colleges.) There was really nothing going on in this dream, except that I'd made my way into a forest, and in the middle of this forest was this tree. It was bigger than those giant redwoods in northern California (the top of it was invisible from the ground, as a matter of fact) and it looked like some member of the willow family, with drooping branches and long leaves. Hanging between the leaves on just about every branch that I could see were long fingerlength spires of crystal. When the wind blew, they all rubbed together and made this indescribable music, and of course when the light hit them, they were shot through with rainbows and the whole tree seemed to glow. Absolutely nothing happened in this dream, except that I woke up crying and extremely happy.
Being Icelandic and all that, I've wondered ever since if that was Ygdrasil, the Tree of Life. And if it was, what I was doing there. I'm not big on the whole gods and goddesses thing, but I could have been convinced that day. Even more so if it had, you know, said something. Like, "Jen, go forth and become a great paralegal." Or even, you know, "Hi."
But it didn't. It just stood there, being magnificent. And, realistically, I'm not sure the Tree of Life should really be doing much of anything else.