Often at night, I’ll revisit past dreams; playing them out as they played the previous night. Never noticing until I wake that I’ve been there, that I’ve done that, and that I’m likely to do it again the next night. The sensation of dreams, the deep perception of real, whilst I’m dreaming are as indubitable to me as is the touch of reality when I awaken. Whilst asleep, dreaming is mine and your reality. Reality of course, does not provide the possibilities that dreams provide. I once walked out of my house in Leicester, into the heart of Time Square, New York City, in a dream. Clearly not possible in reality. But to the Jamie in the dream, it wasn’t a strange experience, it was real.
So this leads me to wonder (usually when I have far too much time on my hands) where reality stops and the manipulative World of the dream begins. What is real? Who interprets real? What is concrete truth? If you were to tell the dream me that exists in my dreams that he is not real; that the people he talks to; that the feelings he dwells on are not real; he would tell you that you should be thrown into a mental institution. Similarly, if someone were to tell me that the people I know and love; the life I cherish is not real, is merely a dream of it’s own that one may only escape by death alone, i’d question your sanity.
But then surely that which is “real” is only what our conscious perceives to be real? When I scrupulously observe a large piece of wood with beautifully colourful leaves hanging off of it, my conscious immediately informs me that I’m staring at a tree. If I see that same tree in my dream, my conscious is telling me I’m looking at a tree. Much like it did when I was not dreaming. How am I to logically interpret reality, given that my conscious is so flawed and so fickle in what it allows me to believe to be truth? It’s telling me that both, are trees. So which am I to believe?
If my fickle conscious has convinced me that life, and what could potentially be a higher version of a dream, is “real” then surely my mind has the strength to convince me of anything if my conscious believes it to be so. It’s the reason schizophrenics believe without doubt that they have multiple personalities or hallucinations. What’s to say that we’ve all not just accepted our own form of hallucination as reality? This then leads me to wonder, if you can in fact learn to control conscious, then would it be possible to control “reality“?
“In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav’nly-pensive contemplation dwells”
Alexander Pope wrote “Eloisa to Abelard” as what I interpret to be a poem dedicated to forbidden romance in a deeply Christian World full unforgiving prejudice and fatuous ideas surrounding “sin”. Perhaps his masterpiece. Eloisa is stuck in a World of Nuns and hard Christian values that permit her no freedom. However, there burns a place of solitude away from everything she has come to dislike with the convent life, etched into her mind. Her constant. Her serenity. Her truth. She knows she cannot be blamed for her “unnatural” thoughts, for which a “Vestal” is forbidden; regardless of who says otherwise.
“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned;
Labour and rest, that equal periods keep;
Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;
Desires compos’d, affections ever even,
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heaven.”
The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind (as well as being Jim Carrey’s best film to date) strikes a chord with me. It’s a constant. Something that exists in the mind to forever remind you of what is real and what is a mere dream or manipulation of reality. Something that exists in life, every day but which does not reside in the dream World. When I dream, the perception of reality is new every time. The dream me, does not recall past dreams. He doesn’t think “I’ve been chased like this yesterday” or “I was playing football in this exact place two nights ago”. It is de ja vous without realising it. And so, does not exist. It cannot exist. It harbours no short term memories. Nobody in my dream harbours a short term memory. I could burn a house down in a dream on Tuesday night and it’d be standing back in it’s rightful spot the next night. It is purely a sinister mind trick. But is it a mind trick, purely because my mind knows what a trick is? If I were being tricked into believing that what I perceive to be reality here and now, as I write this, how would I know? I wouldn’t, surely? In my dream, my mind is conscious that it is playing a nasty trick on me. But for dream Jamie, he has no idea he’s not real. When I awake, the idea of a trick is a gratuitous, superficial discussion. Surely the World we have come to accept, is merely the way that we react to Nature and influence on the senses? Reality, is what our sense tell us it is. But what if there’s a higher plain, riding above our available senses? What if we’re missing something? Gratuitous, superficial, but thought provoking and enlightening at the same time.
The constant in my life, the forever, the hot iron that has branded itself onto the front of my deeply flawed and easily manipulated mind, is the concept of “change”. I spend much of my time worrying about how my life will turn out. Scared of the uncertainties that exist on the path I’m indelibly following. If I’m ever going to be truly happy. And what makes for great happiness. I constantly need to “change” aspects of my life to aid my search for serenity. It is always there. When I fall asleep, it is there. When I awaken the next day, it is there. It is my constant need to change. From job to job, friend to friend, study to study; all because I do not know what makes me happy. And although I have succumb almost entirely to the meticulous need to change, lodged deep in insecurity and frustration, it is comforting to know that the very need to change, is paradoxically, the “Eternal Sunshine” that beams brightly, the very unchangeable constant that makes me….. me.