You don’t need to wave back.
I knew it was a dream, but it was as real as the tactile sensation of a breeze on your forehead. He came walking toward me on a dusty, sandy path with this unique gait I’d occasionally seen when walking the streets and glancing at my own reflections in big shop-windows. He was much older than me but then somehow ageless, casual. I was struck that he bore such an astonishing resemblance of myself, but he seemed not to be surprised by that. He looked at me out of knowing eyes, unflinching, taxing, friendly. With a slight smile he invited me to walk beside him.
As it so often is in dreams, I was somehow powerless, not in control, just a helpless spectator of a movie in which I was the star but certainly not the director. It didn’t occur to me to ask him why he looked so disturbingly like me. Occasionally he winked conspiratorially, as if letting me in on a great secret, when we approached the outskirts of a big city.
There, in a parking lot, a lanky, somber figure leaned against a shiny black Cadillac. I didn’t need to be told who it was. Death waved in our direction, but my companion ignored him. “He waves at everyone”, my friend said, his gaze straight ahead, “you can wave back, or you can keep walking”. His expression had changed, his carriage had stiffened, but his smile had even deepened. I glanced back at the scene, helplessly following an invisible script, but he grabbed my arm, and we walked in sync for a while. When I woke up I remembered this fearless smile on his face.
** *** **
I woke up with this strange little story the other morning.
I don’t think much of interpreting dreams. I’m never sure, do we really remember this stuff after we went through these experiences while sleeping, or do we unknowingly make it up the moment we wake up? The brain scientists and psychologists say, in REM-sleep we actually have these experiences and recall them when we wake up. But is this really so? Could it not be, that we wake up bathed in a free flood of more or less randomly accumulated chemistry – all these mysteriously powerful self-made drugs that drive our brain – floating in a soup of emotions that make no sense at all, and, in order to escape this unbearable chaos of sensations and to appease the mind in its eternal yearning for sense we just begin to make up stories out of this when we wake up, invent a reality instead of remembering it? Whether we actually remember it or make it up when we scan our authentic feelings, it is just imagined stuff. And is it really so different when we are awake?
We love stories, we believe to live inside of stories – gigantic stories – we are mostly so involved, so entangled in them that we completely forget to occasionally stop and come to our senses and do a simple reality check. How often do we have the guts to confess that we are actually not so sure how true these stories are? And how often do we have the great courage to acknowledge that we just don’t know the full story, the real story, that, in fact, there may not even be any story at all, just feelings, emotions, mostly memories, sensations of intrinsically incomprehensible complexity. Our mind, thirsting for context, for sense, just makes it all up. What is behind all this noise? What is between the thoughts? What happened while we slept? Are we really awake? What is the difference?
I would like to ask this guy who took me by his hand in a mysterious moment of confusion, but it’s not very likely that I get a chance because didn’t I just make him up?
Klaus Kommoss, Sequim Aug. 31. 2007