I’ve been having a beautiful dream lately. In it, I’m standing at the top of a mountain at the break of dawn, and I can see a large world around me. Wherever I can set my eyes, I can go. I jump off the cliff and I grow wings. They are not large or strong enough to fly, but I can glide down. As my feet gently touch the grass, I wake up.
I walk out the door to my terrace and I look out to the city below me. It looks just like my dream. The first thought on my mind is to jump, grow wings and glide down. I’m called to go anywhere I want. It takes me a couple of seconds to remember that this is not a dream, and that I won’t grow wings. I remember I can’t go anywhere I want, and if I try, I’ll just plummet four floors down to my death, or at least to the partial destruction of my body.
Sometimes when I’m dreaming, specially during a nightmare, I’ll wake up and find myself in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar people. I shuffle around in my confusion trying to find clues, trying to find the beginning of reality. As the anxiety grows, my body becomes heavier and then I’ll wake up again. Has it ever happened to you? Waking up from a dream into another dream?
Some people can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Most of them think their fantasies are reality. But for me, it’s the other way around. Reality feels unreal. Being awake feels more and more like a dream. I open my eyes and the sunlight hits my optical nerves, turning into electric signals that travel into my brain, where they get interpreted, catalogued and memorized. But something is missing. I don’t believe in what my eyes are showing me anymore.
How can you tell the difference between a dream and reality? After all, both are made from the same ingredients. Both are just clouds of electric currents in your mind. We can’t even tell the difference between the past and the future. Our memories of what happened blend with our projections of what could happen. Meanwhile, here and now, this present moment, keeps passing us by like a dream we can’t wake up from.
I remember the tune of my favorite song. I remember the layers of sounds and the tension building up, the drops, the sparks, and the release. I remember the color of the house I grew up in and the sounds of laughter as me and my friends and our parents played in it. I remember things that never actually happened, like that one time I went to the moon. I walked in diminished gravity for hours until I reached the dark side, where I found a massive graveyard. There, hidden from the light of the sun and the light of the earth, I saw a sky filled with more stars than I had ever seen before.
All these memories, and I don’t know what to make of them. The cold wind blows and my face feels numb. I can’t smile or cry anymore. I am so tired, but I can’t fall asleep, and somehow I can’t wake up yet. I continue walking through this desert where there are not distractions. No mirages. No voices. Only decaying statues of the ancient wise ones. The colors of my map have faded. My armor has fallen apart. After staring at the sun for so long, I’ve finally gone blind. And yet, for the first time ever, I can think clearly. I can understand clearly. I can follow the path without doubt.
Do the math. Calculate the exact moment when you should launch your rocket into the heavens, so it will fall into Mars but miss it just enough to get that gravitational slingshot effect. Gain incredible speed on your way to Jupiter and arrive three quarters of a second late. Catch the most amazing views of the gods in their abodes. Listen as they whisper their secrets to you. They too will die some day.
Go on, friend, light up another cigarette, blow the cap off another beer. Kiss that guy again and break his heart, and then break your own heart. Learn the art of deception. Sell your soul to the devil and use the money to buy the gift of aggression. Kill your fellows: you’ll find out they have the same blood type you do. Harvest their organs and keep them in the freezer so you’ll have spares. You’ll need them some day when you’re dying from cancer. And when that time comes, try not to take too much morphine to numb the pain. It’ll give you the worst, realest nightmares you’ve ever had. Ando who wants to die halfway through a nightmare?