Wednesday 13 January 2016

Do We Dream While We're Awake?

In the next couple of posts I want to explore the idea that dreaming doesn’t stop when we wake from sleep. If this assertion is true—and I am absolutely convinced that it is—then our assumptions about how life is structured are ripe for some radical rethinking.

Waking Dreams
In this first post, I simply want to relate one of these dreaming-while-you-are-awake incidents. I call them “waking dreams.” I’m not referring to daydreams—where you let your mind wander in leisurely fashion. Instead, I am talking about incidents that happen while you are awake and focused. It has been my experience that the most important of these kinds of events are accompanied by being startled, frightened or having some sense of misgiving. What follows is a waking dream that happened to a friend of mine a few years ago.

A Waking Dream About Selling a Farm
“Glenn” owned and worked a farm in rural New England. After three decades, he thought it was time for a change. He and his wife decided to put their 50 acres up for sale, knowing that selling a farm would be a long process, possibly taking years. They casually mentioned their decision to a realtor friend and told her they would stop by to fill out the necessary paperwork.

The very next day the realtor called and explained that, even though the farm wasn’t yet formally on the market, she had a client who she thought might be interested. Glenn and his wife had done nothing to make the place presentable--they hadn’t even cleaned. But the realtor’s client came and seemed to show interest.

That evening Glenn attended the annual fundraiser for their small community’s only arts organization. There was a buffet with lots of food, and as he was filling his plate, he happened to glance at the person next to him. He was startled to recognize her as the local “bag lady.” Small towns have their village characters, and she was well-known in the community. But Glenn had never seen her crashing a tie-and-jacket affair. She made some comment to him about the food, but he was so surprised, all he could think of was the word “homeless.” What’s more, he knew the incident was a waking dream about himself and his own situation. He said he got so choked up that he almost started crying.

While he had certainly made the decision to sell his farm, he thought it would take time. He and his wife had made no plans to find a new home. They didn’t even know what region of the country they wanted to live in! The whole thing was a complete shock. But it was also true. Soon after, a generous offer was made on his farm, and it sold within a month.

In my next post I’ll discuss this waking dream some more, and I’ll explore the implications of waking dreams further. In the meantime, let me know what you think.

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