It was like being weirded awake.
I had the strangest dream the other day. I was walking down the street in a foreign country, when this woman stuck her head out a door. She looked really irritated with me. I thought, “Uh oh…”
Then she shouted, “Wake UP!!!!”
At exactly that instant, my alarm went off. It was like being weirded awake. There are a few things that I find fascinating about this dream.
First of all, I must have an extremely accurate inner clock. I wish I could access it more. It would save me a lot of hassle in life. I can’t tell you how often I spend looking at the clock, but it’s time that could be better allocated to other things. It would be nice to just know what time it is, instinctually. Apparently some part of my brain has this ability, but “I” definitely do not.
Which leads me to the second fascinating thing: My subconscious was speaking directly to me. That has only happened a few times in my life. And it was irritated, which is rather unsettling.
The subconscious has always interested me. It resides inside my head, so it’s me. But I have extremely limited access to its inner workings, so in a way, it’s not me at all. It’s other. Are we roommates, sharing the same brain? Are we separate entities?
Beats me. All I know for sure is that, for one brief, shining moment, we were face to face, and I was intimidated. And it (she?) wanted me to wake up. So I did.
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Is anything worth your life?
I pass by this plaque every time I visit the post office in Kent, Washington.
I have very mixed emotions about it.
Of course I’m happy that coworkers cared enough about Douglas J Hansen to memorialize him after his death. I do like the quote, “Don’t ever give up on your dreams.” But the older I get, the more I realize that there are dreams, and then there are dreams.
Doug Hansen was 46 years old when he died. No one should die at 46. My life was only just beginning at that age, and I’ve had so many amazing experiences since then. Life is priceless.
He died after having climbed to the top of Mt. Everest. That’s a formidable achievement, especially when you consider the fact that it was his second attempt. He died on the way back down the mountain.
Normally I’d say good for him. He had a dream. He went for it. And he reached his goal before he died.
But the story is a little more complicated than that. According to Wikipedia, a storm was headed toward the mountain, and everyone knew it. They just didn’t realize how severe it would be. As it increased in intensity, one of the most experienced Sherpas on the mountain that day encountered Hansen and ordered him to descend. Hansen shook his head and continued upward.
He took too long. By the time he reached the summit and started his descent, in a raging storm with depleted oxygen reserves, it was too late. He paid for it with his life. A total of 8 people died on that mountain that day. Ignore experts at your peril.
I understand why Hansen would be reluctant to give up. After all, it was his dream, and he’d already failed once. Also, climbing Mt. Everest isn’t cheap. On average, it costs $70,000 to $100,000. It must be frustrating to shell out that kind of money twice only to fail twice. Obviously, he was very determined.
But was it worth his life, or that of the guide who stayed with him? I’m thinking no. I say, live to dream another day.
Do I think we should all huddle on our couches, afraid to take risks, devoid of aspiration? No. But you should do a thorough cost/benefit analysis before putting your life on the line. I think it’s foolhardy to give up everything, absolutely everything, especially when you have no idea what your future holds.
Life is full of possibilities. But instead of exploring those possibilities, Doug Hansen’s body has never been found. It’s frozen stiff somewhere on Mt. Everest, and there’s nothing but a tombstone for him in the same graveyard in Renton, Washington where Jimi Hendrix is buried, and a memorial plaque outside a post office in Kent. That seems like a poor trade off to me.
What do you think?
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My subconscious no longer speaks to me.
I have this love/hate relationship with my CPAP machine. I’ve been sleeping with a mask on every night for about 3 months now. It’s no fun at all. It’s uncomfortable, and confining, and it makes me marinate in my own drool. I feel trapped, and I strongly suspect it’s subtly changing the shape of my face. (Hey, it could happen. Anything’s possible. Google it.)
On the other hand, I’m no longer waking up 10 times a night. I sleep right on through, usually. And I’m much more rested. So it’s a burden I’m willing to take on.
Here’s the one concern I can’t seem to shake: I’m not communicating with my subconscious. We are no longer on speaking terms. I don’t remember my dreams anymore, because I’m not waking up immediately after REM sleep.
This is a good thing, health-wise. But I wonder about that communication process and the loss thereof. I mean, what are dreams for, if not to send us messages from the deepest parts of our brains?
Okay, I’ll admit that 9 times out of 10 I can’t make sense of my dreams at all. But sometimes they clue me in on the fact that I’m a lot more concerned about something than I realize. That allows me to take that thing more seriously and resolve it if I can.
But now all that seems to rattle around in my sleeping brain is the background hum of my CPAP machine. At first it was kind of a relief, because I have enough to think about without added dream drama. But now I wonder what I’m missing.
Because of that (and because, let’s face it, I hate the mask), I sometimes peel the alien intruder off my face and allow myself a few hours of slobber-free, unencumbered sleep. It’s such a luxury. It feels so good.
I have noticed, though, that this causes my dreams to be incredibly intense. No longer just abstract and surreal, it’s like my sleeping self is gripping me by the shoulders and giving me a good hard shake. “Hello! Are you listening? This stuff is important!” My dreams are no longer sweet. They’re more like shouts.
Will this impact my mental health? I mean, communication matters, right? Should I be worried? Stay tuned…
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