Beyond Our Dreams… A Season of Lucid Living
“In my dreams I walk the winds,
I climb the stairs of open space;
In my dreams I float …Unfettered
By myths of connectedness that limit…”
(Excerpt from the poem “Surreality” by the author)
While We Sleep…
We all dream during sleep. Some of our dreams we remember, others we don’t. Our dreams represent the conscious and unconscious symbols of our waking states. Dreams are the short stories of the aspirations, secret and otherwise, that motivate the many actions through which our lives and realities are expressed.
Our dreams are sometimes predictive, revealing to us events that will come to pass in our futures. At other times they are purely symbolic; representing the existential agents of our hopes and fears, and revealing the emotional depth of our involvement with those symbols. Some of our dreams seem to come “out of the blue” of our world. They seem not to have any basis in our conscious experiences. Others are a direct result of the outstanding impressions of our daily lives.
Our dreams come and go as we sleep. We remember some of them, and we endeavor to understand the symbols that occur and recur in them. Most of our dreams occur seemingly without conscious input from us. On the other hand, there are dreamers who predetermine the content of their dreams. These persons dream so much that they, in the course of a dream, are actually aware that they are dreaming, and can direct the course of events of that dream. This is what is called “lucid dreaming”. As one who has had such experiences in my sleep, I can attest to the interesting nature of lucid dreaming. My dreamscape became a virtual wonderland for the exploration of fantasies that I dared not share.
As a young boy growing up in a rural district in Jamaica, I was a frequent dreamer. In a place where we didn’t have very much… and where many had much less to look forward to… the long, silent, dark nights provided the perfect opportunity for dreaming. I looked forward to my dreams. They provided for me adventures in symbolism and thrill-seeking that unlimited me in so many vital ways. We had no electricity or running water. Without radio or television, and with very few reading resources in the very simple place we called home, the adventures in my sleep were a welcome escape from a sometimes dull reality.
Many of my dreams were predictive in nature. It was not unusual for me to have a dream that foretold in precise detail the return of a family member who had gone on a trip to some distant destination. One of my more unforgettable episodes had to do with a dream that predicted my younger brother’s accident in which he broke a leg in a fall from a tree on my grandmother’s property. This unfortunate event, like others in my dreams, happened the very next day after I dreamt it. As astoundingly sad as it made me to share the fact that I had seen such a thing in my dreams, the predictive aspect of dreaming has always been a source of wonder to me. I have come to regard it as time-traveling in my sleep… a forwarding to the future you might say.
Dream vs. Vision
Beyond the short stories in our sleep, we have the ability to consciously project the futures we desire in the waking hours of our daily lives. Some refer to this as “dreaming about the future”. While our dreams are mostly involuntary ventures into the surreal, we have a real ability to mentally and spiritually and emotionally project the kind of future we want for ourselves. We can call this “having a vision of our lives”. It is a truth worth noting that “if we don’t know where we want to go we will end up someplace else”. Our destinies are a function of the choices we make about where we want to end up in life. Every road leads somewhere. The question we face has to do with whether the road we are traveling is leading to the places we want to go.
Creating a vision of our futures gives us a useful predictive tool that most of us find handy in navigating the course of our lives. Despite their semantic and rhetorical points of departure, we often use the words dream and vision interchangeably. The operational difference between them has to do with the purely incidental nature of dreams, as against the purposeful nature of being a visionary in the matter of charting one’s destiny. We can agree that our ability to “move ahead” has a lot to do with our penchant for seeing ahead through the foresight that a well cultivated vision provides. Life without a purposeful vision can be a course of stumbling… A journey fraught with too many unforeseen obstacles.
There is a place where our dreams and our vision of life merge. I call it a place of Lucid Living. Lucid living is our ability to creatively engage the circumstances of life with the clarity that comes from a well honed vision. That clarity facilitates the engagement of useful perspectives that are not otherwise available to us. It allows us to take calculated risks that we would otherwise retreat from. It helps us see possibilities that evade those who face similar circumstances, but who haven’t done the work of vision cultivation.
It is “cool” to dream… many of us spend an inordinate amount of time at it; but then we must wake up and do the real work that accomplishing one’s vision involves. It is one thing to be the receptacle of a surreal experience; it is quite another matter to be fully and consciously engaged in the real work of creating the life and world we desire for ourselves. It is one thing to spend our time wishing and hoping; it is quite another to offer up the sweat and tears that come from what is at times a bruising sustained effort.
Beyond Our Surrealism…
“In my dreams I walk the winds… I climb the stairs of open space… “. So goes the opening lines in the first verse of my poem “Surreality”. It is possible to accomplish the impossible in our dreams. We fly. I walk on air in my dreams. I float around unencumbered by the force of gravity. In my dreams I use the power of my thoughts to rearrange objects …and objectionables. I face and conquer great adversaries with the skill of a well practiced master. In my lucid dreams I take risks that I dared not take in my wakened state. And then I wake up…
Gravity is real. In “real life” one does not just wish the obstacles away. The challenges we face in our wakened state require abilities that we do not always possess. Mastering our circumstances, while not impossible, requires the kind of effort and dedication that few cultivate the will to do. Our dreams are at times frightful, and we may wake up sweating profusely from an awe-full surreal event. Mastering ourselves and our circumstances in reality takes some sweat, and tears… and substantial bruising sometimes. That. Is. Life.
In the immediate absence of the means to realize the kind of life we desire, we sometimes find ourselves daydreaming. Ultimately, beyond our daydreaming we come to a place of resolve. This is a place of cliched truisms… Where there is a will, there is a way. Nothing is impossible… If I can think it, I can accomplish it. Descartes’ myth becomes our mantra… Cogito ergo sum! I think therefore I am. I adopt to myself, and to my aspirations, the power of the ideas in the Gospel of John… “In the beginning was the Word (Thought), and the (Thought) was God… Everything that was created was created by the Thought”. My thoughts thus become the reality in which I live and move and have my being. My words/thoughts become flesh and live in my life/world.
In the absence of an enabling vision of our lives, we remain in the bed of complacency. We live there. We sleep there. We dream there. In the presence of a viable vision of Life, we hear the voice that says to us… Wake up! “Take up thy bed and walk!” Rising up from the bed of complacency is the expressed commitment of those possessed of an empowering vision of the future. It is the act of persons who no longer perceive themselves in terms of the crippling disability that afflicts those who think of themselves as the victims of a life imposed upon. We create our own symbols.
Ultimately it is up to us to reinterpret our possibilities in terms that empower us. In the place of the chained feet of a burdened existence, we can grow wings… We can fly unfettered, leaving behind us the superimposed connections to those realities that chain us to the nowhere of a severely limited existence. “In my dreams I walk the winds, I climb the stairs of open space; In my dreams I float unfettered … By myths of connectedness that limit… In my dreams I am one with my thoughts… And know only as a remembrance … The obstacle of my consciousness…”
Beyond our dreams we are challenged to live our lives in a season of clarity. This season is ushered in by the vision we develop from a place of lucid living. Begin by determining to be the primary actor in the life that is yours. Claim your life with all the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and industrial energy you can muster. Live with the certainty that your life can be whatever you determine it to be.
R. A. G.
Roy Alexander Graham
President/CEO, FIGTREE ENTERPRISES, INC.
Copyright 2014 Figtree Enterprises, Inc.