Saturday, January 7, 2012

As if it were real

Sleeping near the water has always had an effect on my dreams, at times leading to vividly unsettling awakenings. In the movies, when the protagonists are suddenly awakened from a disturbing dream, they sit straight up in the bed, with a startled stare in their eyes and sweat on their forehead, as they gasp for breath and gulp at the reality of it only being a dream. Or if it were a younger person, they would be awakened by the gentle pleadings of a vigilant family member in a bathrobe, coddling them in their arms and assuring them of their safety. These dramatic flourishes seem to only exist in movies because, in my experience, I have rarely sat up in the bed with a start or had someone, already awake, tapping my hand or patting my shoulder but rather found myself roused in the physicality of the nightmarish moment as if it were real.

Usually the moment comes upon me without warning or prescience in the dream. And usually, it follows one of the recurring motifs of me struggling to collate documents for something, travel from one place to another - whether around the corner, cross town or to another country - or trying to get to one of the ever mutating multiple residences I seem to have but have misplaced or lost directions for in these dreams. The rig-a-ma-roll in these ventures tend to be benign until it leads to a disagreement, usually with someone emotionally close, and escalates into a yelling or fighting match, which will awaken me hollering or shouting at the person and in an instance, hitting my partner, even if it wasn't about him. Other times the dream is interrupted by an unanticipated turn of events, like a animal suddenly lashing out and chasing and biting at me or walking through a door and abruptly encountering menacing figures lurching at me with claws or weapons or slipping from an unstable surface off into an abyss looming below.

Weaving toward awakening, still in the moment, crying out in the dark, with hands or arms flailing and fear or anger filling my body, I grasp for safety. My accelerated heart beat adding to the throbbing of nerve endings, as my pulse races and my breathing shortens. At times, I would unfortunately awaken my partner with a scream or punch, inadvertently pulling him into my nightmare, from his own restful sleep. Scratching for the reality that it was only a dream, seems to elude me in the ensuing moments because it felt so real. The space between our dreams and real life does not exist in these moments and reveals to me that we essentially tread between two worlds - the conscious and unconscious.

The reason for these turns in dreams is unclear and can be assumed to rest in the unsettled issues of our wakened hours, however, the closeness of them to our reality is not below the surface but actually there as a racing heart and the startled face of an awakened lover might reveal.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The next moment can wait

For the briefest of moments I forget that my life is more than basking in the sunny atmosphere of bright smiles, warm embraces and loving kisses from friends and the locals here in Salvador. The morning walks with buddies, the afternoon passage on the beach and evening dinners in outdoor restaurants are among the swirl of activity that eclipses concerns of cold days back home. As I pretend that my life is in the here and now, I still veer toward the things that must be in place upon my return. The thoughts of supplies and syllabi, students and models, colleagues and confidants, stir in my mind, as breezes flow over my sun baked body. My languid stroll along the promenade, at times, is undercut by the internal scheduling of trains, planes and buses in my head.

This consciousness is hard to maintain in a land where things operate in a fluid motion, attendant to what happens next rather than what is prescribed. This moment is what matters, is a concept I willfully use in my daily life, but for it to truly work it has to be unconscious. Here in Salvador the people seem to know that there is no rush to get to the next moment when the present one is before you. The chance encounter that could lead to a long talk, walk or lunch is a common happenstance. Having a relationship with someone or something, like the sun, surf and sand, is enough to fill one's day. My goal is to carry this way of being into the colder climes of the northeast, and not be rushed by chill or prescription, because the next moment can wait.

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