Dreaming with Open Eyes

During the second week of Writing 101, we were supposed to ask for reader feedback, in the form of a poll or some other suitable method, on what sort of content they would like to see on the blog. I forgot to do that on the day it was assigned, and completely forgot to come back to it. Oops. Though I intend to set up an independent reader poll later on this month.

The 15th assignment was about writing on a reader-suggested topic, based off the poll. Needless to say, I’ve come up empty on that front. Fortunately, the good folks at WordPress provided some alternate topics to post about. One of them particularly piqued my interest.

The topic was: Have you ever felt awake, but in a dream?

I find the phrasing of that question to be a bit ambiguous. It could mean, have you ever had a dream so vivid, it felt like you were awake? Or it could mean, have you ever felt like you’re living a waking life inside a dream? I think one of those interpretations is definitely more valid than the other, but ultimately, both work for me!

Many people can relate to the former, I’m sure. You’re having a dream, either about something wonderful or something extremely terrifying, and it feels like it’s actually happening. Then you wake up and realize it was all a dream, but the world feels strange. You can still recall the dream so vividly, remember every detail, every sensation…and yet, none of it was real. You shared a romantic moment with someone you couldn’t pursue in real life, reconciled with an estranged friend, discovered that a long-dead relative was somehow alive again. And just like that, it all vanished, but those moments lingered. Heartbreak and disappointment was all you woke up to find.

If your dream involved being chased by zombie dentists, though, perhaps it was best that it turned out to only be a dream. Not that it’ll stop you from shrieking any time you hear anything that remotely sounds like a drill for the rest of the day.

The other interpretation, about living a life that feels like a dream, is something I experienced a lot in high school. My family lived in Kuwait until I was 6, at which point the first Gulf War broke out and we had to leave. I remember being woken in the middle of the night by my mom. We had to pack up all our things right then and go over to a friend’s house (serving as a temporary safe house), and in a few days, we’d leave the country. I was drowsy and confused and don’t remember much else about that night. It almost feels like we wound up at the safe house instantaneously.

For many years after that, I often had the weird idea that maybe I was still asleep back in Kuwait and everything that had happened from the point my mom ‘woke’ me was just a dream. Moving to a different country, changing school, making new friends, going through adolescence. All of it was just a strange fiction dreamed up by a 6 year old boy. Kind of like the ending of St. Elsewhere.

It was a ridiculous notion of course, and one that I grew out of, but it’s creepy to think about, the idea that everything I know and love might disappear in the literal blink of an eye. I might just wake up one day as a little boy who had a really long, vivid and confusing dream, one that haunts him for a while but is forgotten as soon as he sits down to watch cartoons.

Keep sleeping, little buddy. Keep sleeping.

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6 thoughts on “Dreaming with Open Eyes

    • I think it was more traumatic for my parents. I knew something bad was happening, and leaving our home and old life behind felt wrong, but I don’t think I fully understood the depth of the situation until years later.

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  1. Interesting…I had a vivid dream recently, one in which, altho the setting was back in time, the action that took place was in the present. It was a reconciliation between my brother/his wife and myself after 30 some years of estrangement. I believe my dream foretells the future! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. “Not that it’ll stop you from shrieking any time you hear anything that remotely sounds like a drill for the rest of the day” made me laugh out loud .

    You made me identify with your experiences, even St. Elsewhere.

    Well done! (Don’t think too much of my comment – I haven’t finished either assignment yet.)

    Like

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