I’ve posted before about lucid dreaming. On my own blog. Lucid dreaming is when you consciously realize that you’re dreaming. Not everyone experiences such dreaming, but most folks have had at least one or two lucid episodes. I’ve actually had a lot of them, and I thought I’d post on the topic here at Novel Spaces. I’ve used my dreams often for inspiration in my writing, and lucid dreaming allows you to “experience” a story in a new way.
Lucid dreaming actually comes in two types. In the first type, you become aware that you are dreaming but can do nothing but observe the events that are unfolding. In the second type, you become aware that you are dreaming and can actually manipulate the dream. When I do become lucid during dreams, I am generally capable of the second type, of manipulating the images. That can be a lot of fun. As you might imagine.
The thing I like to do most when I realize that I’ve gone lucid is to “fly.” Sigmund Freud believed that flying dreams signified anxiety. That’s nonsense. At least for me. Flying is incredibly exhilarating. As soon as I realize I’m dreaming, I take off running for the nearest high point and jump off; I spread my arms and soar like a raptor. I run because I know I have only moments left in which to fly. This is because lucid dreaming primarily occurs only toward the end of the dream cycle, when one is already starting to climb up through the dream toward wakefulness.
Personally, I find that I cannot completely rewrite a dream when I’m lucid, but have to mold or change the images that are already present. In a recent dream, for example, I was in the basement of a building when I became lucid. It would have been nice to just “transport” myself to a mountaintop and fly from there, but I’ve tried it and I can’t make it happen. Instead, I took off running up some stairs, found a corridor, raced along it to an outside door, flung open the door and leaped through into the air.
I’ve also tried at various times to recreate specific people in my lucid dreams. I might want to see Lana, for example. But I’ve found that I can’t build something from nothing. If I’m walking alone on a deserted highway, I can’t just “conjure” Lana to appear beside me. If there is another person there I can “transform” them into Lana fairly easily.
A couple of years back, while in a lucid dream, I decided I wanted to speak to my father, who has been dead since I was 13. I was standing just outside a forest and I tried to “force” my dad’s image to appear at the edge of the woods. I concentrated very hard, but what I got was not a person, only a sort of “lightness” against the dark background that was human shaped. Like a photographic negative. Yet, I sensed that it was my father and I could speak to him. For a brief moment I felt able to reach across the years and communicate with him as an adult, in a way I was never able to do while he was alive.
I still remember how sad it left me when the dream dissolved, like a floating bubble touching something sharp. I never fought harder to hold onto a dream. But it was a dream, and it ended as all dreams must. And today is the first time I’ve written about it. I’m not sure why, but maybe just because that’s what writers do.