By Trent Rentsch
I float in that haze, that never-land of memories filtered through dreams, hopes, desires… and nightmares. How brilliant I become, how simple it all is, how silly not to have it all yesterday! If this, then that; if here, then there. A perfect key to every lock—all doors fly open and the answers race through the portals as if they had been searching a lifetime for me, rather than the other way around. As the light fades, I realize that the gentle drifting has gradually become a rapid spiral. No, it’s not that the light is fading! I’m being sucked into oblivion, the blackest dark where all of my treasures will surely be ripped from my consciousness, scattered and broken where I will never find them again! Not sleep, not now! Not even if alarms and work are less than 2 hours away, these revelations are too important! Then, just when I’m sure I’ve beaten the trance, I’m jolted awake by the jagged drone of alarm number one. My mind has played the cruelest prank, making me believe that I was still holding my hoard of revelations when I had really been left holding the bag in a subconscious Snipe Hunt.
Don’t you just hate those nights when you can’t fall asleep? Especially when you need to get up early, especially when your brain is here and…there. Too tired to be rational, just awake enough to recognize what’s tumbling past, everything does seem possible. Worse are the nights when the only lens you see/hear everything through is the nightmare, when molehills are Mt. Everest and the coming darkness a gaping, savage orifice with very sharp teeth. The terror is totally irrational, and totally real. I don’t know about you, but between impending disappointment and/or sheer terror, it’s a wonder I can even be in a bedroom, much less lay down on a bed!
I once knew a girl who made a study of dreams. Everyday she would lug a backpack full of books to work, with titles like, 1001 Dreams Revealed, and Know your Dreams, Know Yourself. One morning, after a nearly sleepless night of grappling with Near Sleep, I asked her if there was such a thing as a waking dream, and if the meanings would be different. “Would it be possible,” I wondered further, “that those waking dreams, if mastered by the conscious part of the mind, could really hold answers to any question sifting through the dreamer’s mind at that second?!” She paused thoughtfully, then dug a book out of her bag. “Let’s see what I can find.” There was nothing revealing in 1001 Dreams Revealed, nothing new to know in Know Your Dreams, Know Yourself.” In all she scoured 27 books on dreams, and by the time she had gotten to The Snooze of Pooh, she finally admitted defeat, and I resigned myself to the conclusion that I would have to discover my own answers.
I had tried the old, “Note Pad by the Bed” routine before, but I decided to give it another shot. Maybe my previous attempts had been flawed experiments, the scrawls left on the paper the result of an unscientific study. This time, instead of fumbling in the darkness with my pen, I would mount one of those pocket flashlights to my writing instrument, so that I could see where the point was going. Unfortunately, when the moment of truth came, I tried to turn on the pen and write with the flashlight… POOF! Bye-bye prophecy. It was obvious that more high-tech measures needed to be taken. Sadly, the “Cassette Deck by the Bed” didn’t reveal more than the fact that I sometimes think I’m Batman, and that those goofy strips I attach to my nose at night do little to stop the snoring.
If there’s a shortcut to be found, it’s not there. Good, bad or ugly advice, none of it exists in the twilight world of almost asleep. It really is just a big joke your brain plays on you, the same joke it plays when you’re wide awake, and it makes you believe that there’s an easy way out, a short-cut to success. The truth is, no matter how much we want it, no matter how hard we dream and pray, the odds off achieving what we want without working hard for it are 80 bazillion times 120 bazillion to one. So, there are two choices: either play the cosmic lottery over and over, wishin’ and hopin’ and dreamin’ and prayin’ till last call, or really look at the answers you want, figure out how to make them real, and work for them!
The gearhead in me still feels a twinge of hope when I read about the latest processing miracle boxes that are coming out. Some of the newest pieces of audio magic promise to turn your voice into that wonder of voice-over you could only dream about in the past, adding growl, resonance, rasp… basically adding 20 years of whiskey and chain smoking to your vocal cords. I’d love to tinker with it and hear what comes out, but if I used it all the time, made it “my sound,” it wouldn’t be me. I don’t think I like the sound of that. What I do like are the positives I occasionally get for my own voice, the one God gave me over 40 years ago, the one that I’ve spent over 25 years trying to turn into something useable.
I still believe that there’s magic in the twilight, but I realize that I would be a fool to rely on it. A dream without action has no power, one with a plan and forward movement can create destiny, not to mention that it’s the answer to those sleepless nights.