Monday, March 28, 2005


During the night I awoke with a start. My mind was full of remnants of a melodrama of activities that only a split second ago were absolutely crystal and lucid. But in waking, all these crisp episodes scrambled like cockroaches when a light is suddenly switched on. With incredible speed they dived into hiding places in the dark corners and fogged crevices of my mind. And as so often happens, I now found myself sitting upright, perched on the cusp between REM-sleep and the quietness of dawn.

I grabbed for pen and paper but already there was so little left to record. I wrote down all that I could manage to clutch, one little teeny wisp of something that I was a part of that was special, unique, and quite shocking. I was so frustrated that it had all scurried away so quickly. So disappointed that I had lost something so special, that I immediately flung the pen across the room and plunged back into my pillow to see if I could pick up the threads. I did go back to sleep but it was a sleep in a black void – no activity, no excitement.

And then this morning I saw that bit of notepaper on the floor and flipped it over to see what it said, or indeed if it said anything. I read a scrawl that looked so unlike my own writing that it was hard to believe that I was the one that wrote it. It said simply "Elephant – pachyderm."

I studied the note and rooted around in the dark recesses of my mind to try to find what it was that I had been dreaming. Something was so unique about my dream and uncommon that I was desperate to remember what was going on. It was there somewhere. I knew that because I could sense the details were as close to the surface of thought as water tension is to the surface of a body of water.

Now I swear I have never dreamed a dream where I was anything other than the woman I now am or the child I once was. Yes, in dreams I have been a woman passionately in love with some new hero. Or a young girl in grade school dealing with difficult situations. Or a teenager dressed in funny, rather than stylish clothes. Or a female being pursued by beasts or wild animals. Or a mature woman driving a car with failing brakes and a sputtering engine. But never, in all previous dreams have I been anything but myself – perhaps not in the current stage of life, but definitely a person of feminine gender with my real-life personality and physical attributes, somewhere along the spectrum between youth and maturity.

But now, despite the inability to remember my dream, I know I was not a female person – I was something else. At first I thought that perhaps I was a man. God forbid. I ran my hand over the dark fuzz on my top lip. Am I losing my estrogen at such a maddening pace? But somehow that didn’t seem to be it. What I do know is that I was a power to be reckoned with. Not lightning, nor thunder, nor fire, nor earth, but still very strong. But it is an allusion that eludes me. What was it?

I have only one tiny clue. A bit of scrawled writing. "Elephant – pachyderm." I look again at the paper. And that’s when it hits me. That is it. That is what I was – I was an elephant! And in my mind there opens a fleeting but foggy picture of myself, as a great handsome lumbering beast happily showing a group of laborers how smart I am, how strong, how intelligent. Engaged in moving huge monster timbers as deftly and delicately as a Pick-Up-Sticks champion gamer. Emotionally saturated with the delight of my purpose and the joy of absolute self-fulfillment.

"Is this possible?" I kept asking myself. "To be something other than me in my dreams?"

And then I think about other dreams and I have to conclude, "Why not?"

After all in other lucid dreams I have done some pretty uncanny stuff. I’ve swam across raging rivers (though I can’t swim a stroke) and I have flown about the skies or up and down long staircases (without benefit of parachute or wings). I have plunged into deep dark holes and fallen and fallen but yet never hit bottom. I have killed nasty beasts with my bare hands. I have reattached severed limbs on loved ones and performed other complicated medical procedures. I have done any number of courageous and incredible feats.

I have played concerts with instruments that I have never held in my hands or even ever seen in real life. I recall one dream (still with some awe and astonishment), where I read aloud from a great long scroll of foreign hieroglyphics without pause or difficulty to a large multitude of people. I remember reading it, I remember thinking how comfortable the words were, I remember how attentive the audience was, but I don’t remember a thing about the contents except that it had something to do with cats.

But even more amazing than that, in other dreams I have assembled and disassembled complex mechanical equipment (despite the fact that in real life, I don’t even know how to set my microwave or oven clock or how to program or use the VCR) and invented incredible machines that outstrip any that the most imaginative scie-fie buffs have ever remotely thought of. So it is possible. I could be something other than me in my dreams.

So now, if that is the case, why can’t I be fire, or water, earth, or the force of wind or an earthquake? Or why can’t I be lightning or thunder? Perhaps I just have to give my dream-identity permission to go that far. Perhaps it is like hypnosis. Those not wishing to be hypnotized cannot be hypnotized. There has to first be a willingness to depart from that which is familiar and comfortable. And like those who are willingly but unwittingly hypnotized, in my dreams I could become anything if I permit or allow myself to be.

Perhaps I could experience living the life of a mouse or a dust-mite or a flea. Do you realize that I could write books more popular than the best sellers if I could go into a colony of dust-mites, clone and profile their primitive personalities, and live in their space. Dr. Suzuki would quickly sink into oblivion. And from diminutive creatures to the extremes of the mightiest forces of our natural world, as thunder I might capture the essence of all the mysteries of life and as lightning I might find the path to follow to get there. The possibilities are endless.

But in the meantime, ‘Pffft’ to those with the one liners that are meant to empower women. Although I don’t recall the details of this dream, phrases (ie. I am worth it. I deserve it. Taking time for me. Inequity and equality, etc.) have suddenly become so ridiculously inadequate – so weak and mundane. In my dream I was given a brute strength that has empowered me in real life. It was this acquisition that made we aware, despite my inability to remember details of my dream, that something in the events of that dream wrought an undeniable change. And with that change, all my fears, anxieties, and insecurities have been eradicated.

And meanwhile, the curse of my existence, that chronic state of painful self-consciousness (inability to meet my own and others’ expectations) that has chewed away at my being for all time like an ulcerated canker sore, has been vanquished. It is gone. Obviously it must be or I wouldn’t risk appearing to be silly, foolish, or mentally deficient by sharing such strange and remarkable happenings with you.

I am no longer weak and scared. I am a power to be reckoned with. Now come over here and show me what mountain you want moved.

So now my question to you is, "In your dreams have you ever taken on another identity?"


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