Carlos Castaneda introduced the idea of lucid dreaming to me in one of his Don Juan books many years ago, but I confess I never quite got the knack.
Once or twice, in the middle of a truly scary dream, I have said, “This is just a stupid dream” and woken up, thereby saving myself from certain dream death. As a result, I have never tested that theory that if you die in a dream, you really do die.
As far as I understand it, lucid dreamers can change the course of a dream according to their will. Apparently it is a skill you can teach yourself. As I recall, I actually tried it, using techniques I have long forgotten but must be written down somewhere, for I certainly did not learn them from a guru. I gave it up I because it was just too much effort.
From time to time, I wake up with the feeling that I cannot stand one more completely banal dream, so, perhaps, there is an argument to be made for lucid dreaming after all.
Early this morning I had a sort of lucid dream.This was a morning when I did not have to get up at 6:30 a.m. and it was just after that that I had the dream.
Generically, it was a sub-class of what I call school anxiety dreams. In these dreams, I suddenly realize that I am late for school. Usually, I know exactly what time it is, 8:30 a.m. for example, but I am miles from the school where I teach and have no car. The school anxiety dream takes off from there. Sometimes, I actually manage to get to school, but I don’t have my time table, don’t know where I’m teaching, what class, what subject and if I can guess where, the stairs turn into ramps or they don’t lead to the floor where my room is. Or I realize that I haven’t checked my mail box since school began weeks ago and that my time table, placed there in August, is still there unread. Sometimes, I realize I have to teach something I know nothing about, some book I have never read. This isn’t such a stretch. I am actually qualified, for example, to teach economics, having “successfully taught” it at some time, but never having studied it and certainly, having little understanding of it.
I know other ex-teachers who have this same dream.
This morning’s dream was different in that I had to be at a polling booth since it was election day and I had snagged some sort of paid employment, which I badly needed. It was just after 6:30 dream time and I began looking for a green file folder that had the details of where to go and when. I searched and searched to no avail. I seemed to be a young woman, still living at home. My mother was around somewhere and my room, it must be said, was a mess. Eventually, my sister who also had a job at the same place, produced her paperwork. We were to report to a hotel called Dakota at 7:59.9 a.m. I looked at the clock, it was 7:07. The hotel was in a suburb, many freeway miles away. It was rush hour. Traffic would hold us back. What to do?
I decided I needed to make a phone call. I’m not sure to whom. Probably, I intended to plead for leniency because I really needed the $200 I would earn and so did Sis. I picked up the phone. I studied it carefully.
Now it is a peculiar thing. In my dreams, phones are tricky things. The numbers turn into letters or half of them are missing or my fingers are too big for the little keys. I can remember receiving phone calls in dreams. Once shortly after he died, my father called me in a dream, but all he had to say was that he was fine. But I have never succeeded in making a call. This ran through my mind as I looked down at the dream phone and I said, “I can never use a phone in a dream.”
Then I woke up. Of course I did, that was the whole purpose of this irritating dream and probably always is.