Watching the Back of My Eyelids

A movie of my own

The closest approximation of the lights I see that I could find without paying royalties

Sleep is a wonderful thing. I love sleep and I appreciate how necessary it is for a fully functioning human. That said, I hate state changes. I absolutely abhor the transition from awake to asleep — and I detest the move from asleep to awake even more, no matter what time it is.

As a workaholic, I tend to try to squeak every last minute out of a day, even when I personally watch that day fade to black and witness the clock finish another revolution. (Not that my timepieces revolve anymore, all of my clocks are digital now.) I’m not sure what I’m trying to prove by outworking the sun but I realize that every minute I steal from the following 24 hours is a minute that I will need to make up elsewhere.

I feel like I get my second wind around 2 am. In fact, if it weren’t for dreams, I’d probably try to get away without sleep altogether. Fortunately, the surreal landscape and liberating activity of Shangri-La beckons me loudly. I crave the unexpected plotline of a series of tangled memories woven together with unrecognizable details from my subconscious. I eagerly await the moment that I’m snatched away from the object or idea that I want the most, with the understanding that dreams rarely resolve but are instead an instrument of anticipation that will lead you to epiphanies of realization when you connect the metaphors to real-life questions. Admittedly, those connections can be hard to make when work is represented by a ham and your anxiety is represented by all of the leaves being shaken off of the tree by an alarmingly short monkey.

I dream vividly and always have. Whether positive or negative, I’m grateful for that. In fact, I’ve always said that I’d rather have a nightmare than no dream at all…and I suppose I feel that way in my waking life, too. I might feel differently if Stephen King or Anne Rice had influenced me more.

With as amazing as dreams are, more fascinating to me is the light show that happens behind my eyes as I begin to doze off. Indeed, there are are a few solid minutes that I can be traveling to dreamland and still consciously describe what’s happening along the journey, no drugs involved.

Inevitably, it starts with one point of light. The color isn’t always the same but its behavior is fairly consistent. The point, whether fuschia or teal or something altogether indescribable, starts to glow and pulse, then it becomes a line. That line, like a thread sewing my life to my fantasy, vibrates and peels apart, becoming several threads of all different thicknesses. Generally, all of the lights behind my eyes stay within the range of one color, but sometimes they morph into new hues like a screensaver from the 80's.

Once the lights have danced their way from directly in front of my eyes out into the abyss of my consciousness, I catch a glimpse of images moving in the distance. Often, I can shift my focus from near to far, beginning to see the activity develop. This is usually the shadow of a dream beginning to form. If someone is sharing my bed I can describe this vision, only half aware that it’s not reality. Seriously, it’s like the worst party trick ever and if I need to pull it out, the party probably wasn’t worth having in the first place.

Recently, it occurred to me that others might not travel this same path to their dreams. Now I’m aware that people might experience things that are completely different. I’d love to know what those experiences are. And, since I’d rather not sleep with a scientifically significant number of people to gather that information, I figured that blogging about it and asking for comments would be the next best option.

So, how about you? How do you cross over into the sandman’s castle?