A dream is only as surreal as it can be compared to reality enough times, with the repetition of consistent results notwithstanding, that is to say; on whose and what authority does one surmise that what is happening in the human being’s waking hours is not a dream itself? One can begin to ascribe likenesses to this process, one can say this experience is like a dream, or is like a waking state, and further, one could say this experience of waking time is like running backwards in dry sand with a campfire on the tip of the tongue. After all those likenesses have been exhausted, then, what can be said of this experience of waking life? What, precisely, is this?
I look to surrealism as a bridge, a middle-ground to the unconscious mind, or to whatever one wants to label it, because I do not trust anyone to tell me or enforce, really, upon me that all this happening during man’s time while awake is real, or more popularly endorsed: man’s waking life is more real than their dream life. Bullocks. I’ve never ridden a horse, or a pig for that matter. I’ve certainly never danced with a bull, and I was taught well enough from a young age to not be a sucker, to know what shit smells like, and that there’s no need to eat it. All shit, as far as my being is concerned, has a one-way ticket that way. Break a leg. Break a vase. Break a vase and a leg, for all I care, just make sure you exit stage immediately. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
When curiosity gets the better of me, I will search deeper for this question of whose authority is it placed upon, that somehow the masses of human beings, suffering and ailing as we are, have agreed that dreams don’t possesses any utility in waking life. At least not in the marketplace. Or in the classroom. Or in the doctor’s office. Or at the polling booth. Dreams seem to be relegated to the shadows. Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll hear of a stranger’s dreams perhaps in a bar. Often times they are broken there. Or if you’re still even luckier, maybe you’ve listened to someone talk about their dreams late at night, perhaps under the stars, or around a camp fire, or with a couple cups of hot coffee. Still if you’re even among the luckiest, you’ll be able to share your dreams with a loved one. And they will share their dreams with you.
Still I have to wonder—in all of these times in which one would be considered lucky to encounter the dreams of another, or if one were to imbibe another with their own dreams, and be lucky to meet a warm or even unbothered reception; all of these conversations typically hinge upon the agreement between us that dreams and waking life happen on separate playing fields, on separate planes—and the popular assumptions seems to remain that it is quite alright if these two experiences are kept in isolation from each other.
To make this assumption and the pretense that it holds any weight is definitely a treacherous ground to stand upon. It was once told to me that there is no ground. Groundlessness. If you can get used to that, this stint on planet Earth doesn’t get too bad after all.
I’ve been in the midst of a few earthquakes, and witnessing and experiencing the Earth beneath oneself shaking with such spontaneous fervor is about the scariest thing I never thought I’d get to witness as a young child. At the same time, during an earthquake, thanks to evolution or g-d or whoever or whatever is responsible for the human being’s survival instincts; there is no time to reflect. It’s go-time, baby. Get your ass and your skull beneath something sturdy. Get your body and those around you to safety. I have no choice but to shake my head at the earthquake drills the schools I attended in California & Oregon back in the day used to run. To think now that the teachers and school staff had me (and nearly all of my classmates) believing that a flimsy roll top, one-chair school desk, just big enough to fit a healthy 9-year-old student, was going to stop a crumbling ceiling from destroying our respective physical existences—
And I will posit here that the similar idea behind the concretizing of so-called differences between dream life and waking life is the culprit to the delusional approach to living which holds very little value for dreams, the unconscious & the action of dreaming? Going farther, as a 9-year-old child I had no foresight to see how powerful an earthquake could be, until I had indeed experienced it on my own, some years later. Thank heavens I wasn’t at school! Those desks wouldn’t protect one from a falling light fixture, let alone an entire ceiling and the entire building’s structure under the pressure of an angry Earth. Now, what about the application, translation & utility of one's dream-life to the waking world? Who put us up to this task of cowering beneath a flimsy roll top desk, whenever the opportunity to contemplate or explore this subject of one's dream-life & waking life? A dream-life which possesses a certain vitality, a vast & deep dream-life can be unquantifiably rewarding.
I humble myself to think I'm not alone in the perspective that I find the non-quantifiable nature of exploring one's dream-life & unconscious mind as a characteristic of richness & strength, and not a weakness or deterrent. Something that cannot be measured, or that is a challenge to measure in concrete terms, I will posit here, can be seen as closer or more intimate with the Infinite, with the mind of all, than it is with nullity. The tao that can be spoken is not the eternal tao...
One of the major reasons I am drawn to poetry is because I can throw away all these pre-conceived notions, which seemingly were passed down from time immemorial, from one mind to another. Boom. Boom. Boom. Finito…these assumptions & inherited traumas, or turmoil, in relation to the dream-world don’t exist if I don’t give credence to them to begin with.
Now, if I can approach each poem, each book, each breath with this understanding; that I can write and say whatever I want to, that all poets are indeed by some universal (?) grace gifted with this opportunity, that the dream world is absolutely as real, and as (or more) intriguing, as waking life, and often times if I can listen to myself, to whatever is surrounding me, whatever is occurring simultaneously, happening while I am also happening, if I can see that a glimpse of this happening is indeed of the same source, all this happening is of the same energy; that is, I make the assumptions, I make the calls on whose and what authority a claim is made in my work. This is an extremely valuable endeavor. Human beings are blessed and cursed with the endeavor of finding out, to know to what we belong, to know where we are going, to know & seek that which we come from. It seems viable at this point & with these circumstances to lean into one’s own unconscious mind, to prod & probe & plunge & ride the magic of a rich & adventurous dream-life, to find & create some answers worth repeating, worth investigating further, worth cherishing with the depth and breadth of the spectrum of vitality found within the very human capacity to wonder.
*Note: This essay is included in RESUSCITATIONS, my debut poetry collection. Click here to order a copy.