My younger son leans back in his chair at the dinner table and reaches over to the bookcase. He slips out a glossy paperback and begins flipping through it.
“Why do you have a book on dream analysis?” he asks.
Oh that, I say. When I was working on a piece of fiction years ago, I needed it for research. Interesting stuff.
Dreams over dinner
He doesn’t need to know more. That it was also during an extremely active period of dreaming nearly 10 years ago. While writing, I was trying to decipher mysteries in my childhood. There are extended periods that are blank, though recurring dreams remain.
Then he surprises me. “Do you know about lucid dreaming?” he asks.
I had been reading about lucid dreaming very recently.
Yes, I say. I experience it about 20% of the time, as far as I know.
“Wow. You understand what it is, right? Knowing you’re in a dream while you’re in the dream, and there are ways you can learn how to have lucid dreams.”
Do you remember your dreams? I ask.
“Sometimes. But I’ve never had a lucid dream.”
I nod and watch him eat. He’s silent again.
My son catches me off-guard with these questions. They arrive without articulated threads; the connections residing in his unspoken thoughts. He has a habit of providing only the dots and is entitled to do so; others will choose to connect them or not. It is challenging as a parent, and I continue to work with him on more fluid communication, explaining when and how it’s in his best interest.
But otherwise, I understand. I live in my own variation on the same theme: reliant on what is left unsaid as much as what is spoken, on what is withheld out of privacy or economy, rather than shared in performance. I live inside and around and behind my words – those that rally as a cohesive unit when instructed, and those that drift in images, sometimes out of grasp, eventually giving birth to speech. I live in purposeful pauses to be read on the page, in punctuation to slow down or speed up, to convey emotion or its absence, excitement or fatigue. The melody of language and its rhythms form their own heart beat.
Like breathing. Like making love.
My son falls back into the quiet – or noise – of his own thoughts. I drift into the light of mine.
It was a night of dreaming, another good night for sleeping, and for socializing in a bustling world where nothing hurts and everything is alive in a jumble of visitors to my home – adults rather than teens.
There are poets and writers, artists and musicians. English and French are being spoken. There is laughter. Food. Energy.
C’est le rêve de chaque journée.
There was no special occasion, only an impromptu gathering. The conversation is one gourmandise after another – course after course, each unusual and satisfying: airy, filling, savory, sweet. In dream, everything may coexist. Conscious rules are disbanded and reassembled as the imagination pleases.
Just before I wake, one of my guests says:
I know, I reply.
“Stay. You need this sleep.”
Yes, I am in a dream and this sleep is helping me. I will stay longer.
“So what do you want to do, in another kind of dreaming? What is your dream?”
It is a forward question, a personal question. It is something I do not speak of, yet I know I am dreaming and I feel safe here so I want to answer. But I say nothing.
“C’est quoi, ton rêve?” He repeats, this time in French.
I laugh. I am inside a dream, aware I am inside a dream, being asked what my dream is. The irony is not lost on me. I am even being queried in the language of my dreams. I laugh again, marveling at the silliness and wisdom of it. Now I am willing to answer, in French.
J’aimerais faire publier un livre, tout petit, de poésie ou de contes. De qualité. Oui. Ce serait le comble.
I feel the warmth of a fire in the hearth, just behind the man who is speaking with me. We’ve never used the fireplace in this small house though I’ve been telling myself for years to call a chimney sweep and I do so again, noting that I must when I wake, and ask for an estimate. This is wonderful, I think. In this dream, I even have a log in the fireplace, the crackle and aroma of holiday scents, burning wood, oranges and cloves.
No, I say, mixing English and French now. I’m dreaming, but I need to rephrase. Il ne s’agit pas de “comble” – un livre c’est le rêve, oui, mais ce serait plutôt un privilège. Le comble, c’est autre chose ; c’est le rêve de chaque journée ; la prière, les yeux fermés : que mes enfants soient heureux et en bonne santé. That I may be here, for a long time, to share it. That is the ultimate. My sons, happy and healthy.
And yes, writing is the dream. Writing is always the dream.
And then there is this. The gift of dreaming.
This is lucid waking.
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