Kingdom of Dream & Shadows
Something odd has been happening lately during the midnight hours. I have been sleeping. Imagine that! Let us hope I do not curse myself to more endless months of insomnia by finally introducing slumber and darkness to one another so that they are no longer strangers in the night.
"And so I am become a knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows!" ~Mark Twain, The Prince & The Pauper
Even stranger than my apparent ability to sleep is the sudden resurgence of my own personal dream world. I have been dreaming … a lot … more than once a night. Of course, this means my sleep is often interrupted, but at least it is still taking place to some extent. The thing about my dreams is that they are vivid, tangible, often-warped and in Technicolor. I can not imagine dreaming in black and white. How boring. If I didn’t know better I would wonder who was slipping me some acid right before bed because if I try to describe many of my dreams to you … you would swear I was tripping on some illegal substance in order to bring such thoughts into my illusions. Hooray for my subconscious! It knows I do not like mediocrity. If you are going to dream … make it good. This is why we have them.
“When one creates phantoms for oneself, one puts vampires into the world, and one must nourish these children of a voluntary nightmare with one's blood, one's life, one's intelligence, and one's reason, without ever satisfying them.” ~Eliphas Levi, French Author & Magician
And then … there is the other visitor of the night that is not quite as welcomed. This would be the nightmare. I have only had one nightmare in my life and – lucky me – it is recurring. If I am going to have a nightmare, this is the one I have:
It always begins in Nairobi. I am walking down the street, minding my own business, when I feel a presence behind me. I turn and there is nothing there, but I can feel it growing stronger. Finally, in a panic, I begin to run. It is only then that the presence takes some sort of form … something resembling black smoke with no human features (think 'LOST' for those of you who watch that particular television program and need a visual reference of sorts – although this dream began many moons before that program came on the air). I run for a block or two before turning a corner. As soon as I turn I find myself in another city: Paris, London, Barcelona, New York, Dallas … wherever. The order is never the same. I turn again and I am transported to another location. I keep running … I turn … I am somewhere new. I am still being chased. On and on this sequence commences, city through city, until the black shape catches up with me. This is where I wake, usually drenched in sweat, and pondering what has happened in my life in recent days to warrant the resurfacing of such nonsense.
I had this vision again last night. Unprecedented - as I have never experienced it while medicated for my bipolar disorder. It has always paid me a visit while I was swinging drastically between depression and mania. That isn’t the only change. Last night, for the first time, the spirit, presence, shadow, black-smoke, thing … whatever – became a person ... with a face I know well and I was still running.
What does it mean that I am dreaming it now – when I am medicated and stable and, dare I say, as close to ‘normal’ as I will ever be? And, what does it mean that the figure is no longer unidentifiable?
“There is a drowsy state, between sleeping and waking, when you dream more in five minutes with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious of everything that is passing around you, than you would in five nights with your eyes fast closed, and your senses wrapt in perfect unconsciousness. At such time, a mortal knows just enough of what his mind is doing, to form some glimmering conception of its mighty powers, its bounding from earth and spurning time and space, when freed from the restraint of its corporeal associate.” ~Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist