-- Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass
Weeks went by as my dream life became dependable enough to be real life. My real life became surreal enough to be dreamy. Understand that regular dreams as I'd known them all my life, I had no trouble separating those from "reality." But I had never before considered that dreams could be literal, or as "valid" as waking perception -- or, you might say, that there was a category of experience that was neither the dream-world nor the waking-world, and I didn't know what to call it... so I just called it "dreaming." The addition of that "third" aspect to my life -- experiences that I called dreams (whether they happened when I was awake or asleep), which were literal, meaning "real" but not the same kind of real, or the same place as when I was awake -- that whole concept was simply mind boggling for me.
My logical, cynical side suspected that my physical symptoms were affecting my mind. Through the majority of waking life, I was exhausted (despite sleeping 8-11 hours per night), or suffering one of many unexplainable, "paranormal" symptoms. During the day, I was trying to "stay normal," trying not to be upset about the baffling, unpredictable nature of my growing-stranger-by-the-minute experiences. Mostly, I was trying desperately not to let any of it affect my work, which required a great deal of attention and concentration.
So my so-called dream life, which seemed to have no problem dropping in whether I was asleep or not, became more realistic until eventually it seemed as literal (though very different in feeling, tone and result) as reality. It was so consistent, with places I knew and recognized from previous dreams, that it was like a second home. There was this thickish blue liquid, often (but not always) in pools, that recurred constantly; there were many-storied buildings I would find myself inside (I mean it seemed like hundreds of stories, huge); there were these rapid elevators where only the floor moves (there are no doors or walls); and there were these doors that would just appear when you got close enough to them (they're invisible until then, and I could never figure out how the people could see them to know where they were). One part of this place was an open vertical-tubular area, huge, with a big pool right in the middle; hallways and doors surrounded it, more stories high than I could count.
Often I had a computer that was "mine" there, and worked with other people to explain things to them about how to communicate via that software, is the best way to put it. I did a lot of teaching, helping other people to interpret the strange place and the people and language there, although when I was in this "normal" reality I couldn't seem to remember anything tangible of the people or language or computers, to my growing frustration.
Many of the dreams were quite mundane, repetitive and not very exciting after a short time, so I didn't bother writing much of this down. Now, of course, I wish I had. But at the time, it didn't seem important.
It became more and more as if I had two simultaneous, different but equal lives.
On the subject of memories, perception, and confusing reality with not-reality, I should mention one rather odd symptom. In the "real" world, once in a while I would have a specific memory of something that never happened. I would only discover this because I'd make some comment on it. I don't know how often this happened because it was accidental when I'd discover it -- who knows how many things I never mentioned to others, that I remember wrong?
One example dates back to 1989. A coworker was searching for a faucet outside the front of the building, to rinse off his truck. I reminded him that when he had moved the big planter pots outside the front office door and rinsed the patio, there must have been a faucet nearby. He and others, laughing, insisted that the planters would be impossible for him to move and he'd never done so, and for that matter had never even rinsed the patio.
Yet I had a clear memory of two days before, when I had got a quick lunch a few blocks away and had come back to work to find him hosing down the sidewalk outside the front door, something people often do in that multi-tenant building, though not before at our business. I was surprised, but it was no big deal. I noticed that the big planter pots with skinny trees, one on each side of the door, weren't there. So I asked him where they were, and he pointed them out just beside me. I had walked right past them and was standing right next to them, without even seeing them until he pointed them out. I said, "Oh, you moved them. You're sure going to a lot of trouble!" He didn't reply, just smiled, and I walked into the office.
So in the retelling, I was baffled, because I remembered this entire incident and our talk clearly, yet I believed him and the others -- mainly by testing out how heavy those trees were -- that no such thing had ever happened. And mind you, it wasn't that I had a "general" memory that could have been a dream -- I specifically remembered it.
I know this happened a number of times, but the only complete occasion I remember is the one from above, which was years prior, long before I began to consciously notice that anything odd was going on with me. The other occasions I only have "pieces" of memory regarding.
There are three recurring conditions that I recalled once I noticed this and gave it some thought. The first is: the memory was nearly always at the point of coming "to" a place: I remembered going home and seeing a neighbor, going to work and seeing an employee; it was always following a "transition" mode, following travel, that the memories I've caught were found.
The second condition is that there were often -- in fact, nearly always -- elements missing. A picture on the wall, the planters by the door, a certain chair, somebody's glasses, whatever. Since I'm so detail oriented, I would notice the omissions immediately, and ask about them. Then the element would show up. I would ask, "Did you get contacts? Where are your glasses?" and someone would take them from their pocket (as if someone who needs glasses would forget to wear them -- and the pocket would seem to appear at that moment as well). Or similar to how the planters were right next to me, a picture would be pointed out as having been moved to another wall, and I'd realize, Gosh, it was right in front of me but I didn't even see it until they pointed it out. It was as if my memory had been used to construct a certain "set" like a Hollywood set, but details got missed.
The third recurring condition is that the people I encountered -- and there always seemed to be a person involved in these memories -- almost never said anything to me. There was a strong tendency for people who would normally chatter just on seeing me to simply smile and go about their business, without even replying to me unless it were a direct question I asked; even then, if they were forced to reply, their answer was a phrase I'd probably heard them use previously in some other context, that didn't always address the question very well. Sometimes it was the not-quite-linearity of their answer that made me later ask them about it, ask them what they had meant, to find that their memory and mine had no connection on the event at all -- sometimes they hadn't even been around, they couldn't possibly have encountered me!
Anyway, as I mentioned, this dates back years. When I encountered these memories that were inaccurate, I usually figured the other person was confused. My memory in general (at least otherwise) was excellent, was somewhat exceptional in fact; memory had long been one of my best qualities. But that really didn't explain, for instance, what did happen if my memory was wrong. I didn't remember what I did with the rest of my lunch time, what really happened when I walked in the door, or whatever the case may be.
Thinking about that, I finally concluded that the memories were acting as an "anchor" that distracted me from noting what I had been doing in the period just before the memory. Nowadays I know many people call this process, "Screen Memories." But I had no explanation or belief system about it back then. I just assumed I was developing some psychological symptoms, ranging from the extremity of Multiple Personality Disorder to memory or delusional problems. It worried me a bit, but fortunately I didn't notice it very often. And my confusion in that sense never caused me any trouble; I kept it quiet, as much as possible.
"Sudden" dreams began intruding on me, and they disturbed me; it was as if no place was safe, I never knew when I might find myself "in the other place." I could be wide awake, doing some ordinary daily thing, when abruptly I would "find myself somewhere else" (the dreamscape) or I would "fall through my body" and find myself there. (With the falling, there was a strong sense of pulling -- as if I was falling with help. I felt as if there was somebody else involved, and "they" were the ones who initiated it.)
I was usually lucid, but not always. Although I had previously felt completely in control of lucidity, and I was nearly always lucid in dreams, it didn't work as well when it came to these experiences. The main problem was that when I was lucid, I didn't feel I was dreaming. I felt it was real, and wasn't a dream. Now most people might say, "Well of course!" -- but the whole point of being lucid is that you know it's a dream -- if you don't know, you're not lucid, by definition.
I was fully aware of not being in the same state of mind, of the suddenness of being there, sometimes even of "reality" outside it (though not always did I have that last recognition). But when I quizzed myself -- long used to determining, and reporting back to me, my state of mind in dreams, that part of me said "No kidding, this is real."
Sometimes I would spend a long time having an argument with myself, while there. I would insist it couldn't possibly be real, because if it were, why was it so weird? And how did I get there? And why did I remember being there so often, when I knew objectively, in the real world,' I'd never encountered such a place?
The dreams became not only more common, but more intense. At work I didn't have much problem with them: perhaps because I was so busy there, I didn't have the time or energy to deal with anything else. Once in awhile they would strike while I was there, usually when I was alone after business hours, but very seldom. But when I came home from work, in the safety of my home, I would be "pulled out of my body" and find myself other places. Part of me liked it, and thought it was fascinating. The part of me that didn't was in denial, and pretending it wasn't happening. So the experiences continued.
For some perspective on all this, it's useful to know that I didn't have much else in my life at that point. I had music and writing as hobbies, but as I continued to work long hours and to "pass out" abruptly almost the moment I got home at night (I'll go into that shortly), my creative work dropped off radically. As a result I blamed my new rather bizarre creativity partly on "making up for" what I was stifling on other fronts, combined with some sleep disorder and potential chemical imbalance. This helped me deal with the confusion. I always had some "logical" excuse for why things were so strange in my life.
A preference for solitude was in full force, and I began to avoid social activities and other people, and so between work and my sudden "sleeps" I didn't have much time for anything or anyone else.
From Spring of 1993 to Fall, at least a few times a week I would find myself rather abruptly "pulled out of my body," as I call it. It was a strange feeling, and it could happen one of two ways: One, I would feel as if my head grew rather warm and fuzzy, like a vibration was both inside it and around it, and I would sit down or lie down, and then the fuzziness (a sort of buzzing) would intensify until I was apparently asleep. (If I didn't sit or lie down immediately, I would fall asleep anyway, so I learned to make myself comfortable. Waking up in the morning hours, cold without a blanket, sometimes in a place completely different than where I remembered falling asleep, isn't much fun.) It took a minimum of four seconds, a maximum of 20 seconds.
The second option was, I would feel as if I were physically falling through myself, or sometimes just physically falling, and just as my adrenalin reacted to this I would "fall through my body" and realize the movement wasn't my physical self. Usually it was a combination of both; a rather warm and dizzy feeling that came upon me suddenly and that I learned to expect and "fall into."
I consistently woke up -- abruptly -- at 4:30 a.m. Often I had the impression that "I knew what had gone on the whole time I'd been gone," as opposed to just "remembering my dreams." Some of these nights were the "standard fare:" blue pools and "the usual place." I could never remember the people from the dreams for some reason, though I felt sure many were included.
The rest of these occasions were very different from those dreams, but similar to each other:
I was "called" by a group of people. I couldn't see them, I just knew they were there; other times I could see them, but never clearly. I didn't "pay attention" to them... my never seeing them clearly felt more like misdirection of my mind than their being physically invisible.
I would find myself in a crowd of people, called like me, and there would be a small group of people in control -- the callers -- doing some kind of test or contest, usually of something very non-definable in words. (I tried to translate one event to words, and came up with, "They lined four of us up next to each other in front of a wall sized mirror, with soft dark fabric handcuffs linking each of us to the mirror in front of us, and I think we were sitting on something, and then we sort of had to... um... exercise for a long time." But it wasn't that, I'm sure. What I was mostly trying to express was that it involved consistent focus on myself, energy, it was difficult, and required great Will, like exercise does for me. The experiences don't lend themselves to linear language. Either that, or my state of mind made my perception a bit... non-linear.)
The majority of the time, I would be the only person to pass the test, or one of very few. Sometimes I was the only person to do the test. On average, many people would do the thing desired, and one by one, "Poof!" -- they didn't do it well enough and they would just vanish. I had the feeling the leaders had gotten rid of them, they'd "tossed them out." There were a couple of times I didn't pass the given test, but they were very few. On those occasions I would wake up abruptly, hours earlier than usual, feeling very disappointed.
When the testing was done, the people running the show would seize me like they were glad to have me, glad I passed the test, and an intensive sort of "training" would take place (also not definable in words). Sometimes this seemed to take a long time, days or longer, as if time had no relevance in that state. I would always find that although I was clueless about what was going on, I had an "intuition" that usually turned out to be correct concerning the entities, the place and what I needed to do or learn or how I should behave. I was usually confused, which made me very cautious and observant. This was a tremendous help.
Finally I'd be done with my learning process. They were proud of me, and there was a sense from them that "I was one of them now." There would come a point where it became clear that I could stay with them, and they wanted me to, or I could leave and go back [home]. Though I always liked them, and liked learning, I always felt staying wasn't the right choice.
And the minute I would decide to go home, everything would change. It was like being inside a movie, and suddenly the film development changed and the whole world was darker. The people who were my friends, my acquired-family, those who trained me, would be coming after me. Like now I knew too much to be free, or like I'd betrayed them after all they'd done for me. I had to use everything I just learned to get away.
In one sense it was the final test of what I'd learned, because if I hadn't learned it well I'd have been in deep trouble; I might not have escaped. I once joked to myself that the Brady Bunch had abruptly become the Addams Family. They had been so happy with me moments before, and then suddenly were dark and weird -- and dangerous.
It was around this time I became aware of "the tones." Sounds in my head at any time of day or night, sometimes so loud they distracted me, and made it difficult to hear from the ear on the side of my head it was coming from. (It moved around.) Most of them were too high to be sound. Like high frequencies, they were as much sensed as heard. Similar to how I've always been able to "feel it in my head" when a television turns on, much of it is less a matter of sound as it is like a kinesthetic sense.
This feels different than the frequency-recognition of machines I "hear," but there is some similarity. Since then I and various friends have done personal experiments with it, and determined that it seems to depend on the person, not the geography. From Canada to California to Florida, the tones didn't seem any different in any place -- but there did seem to be a tendency for them to be clearer in more "nature-ish" areas or when one was more 'tuned into' an altered state (though that wasn't required). The conflict or competition with other sounds and perceptions in the machinery world may be dampening them, instead of creating them. Who knows, it could be some very normal technology around us that a few people, due to high-frequency hearing or some such thing, are attuned to.
Such a majority of people I've come into contact with in the last couple of years seem to be aware of the "tones" that I'm forced to add it to the list of symptoms one encounters as part of this kind of personal experience. Like most other symptoms, it is "cause unknown."
Bewilderness is copyright © 1993 to present to Palyne "PJ" Gaenir (palyne.com). See bewilderness.com.