My dreams of late have been intense, technicolor affairs that I wrench myself from, gasping and startled, to meet with more mundane reality. This happens periodically, for no reasons that I’ve been able to ascertain. Two in particular have captured my waking mind.
In the first, I was the protégé of an ageing queen–I was to succeed her to the throne upon her approaching retirement. I was not related by blood, nor married to one of her children; instead, I had been selected for the role based on some showing of aptitude. It was nearing the end of my training, and the queen, who found travel increasingly tiring as she grew older, began sending me out on missions in her stead.
My mission for the moment was to put a stop to an illegal logging operation on a remote forested island of some political importance to the country. The mission was a blurred montage of action–helicopter fly-overs of the forest, heated negotiations held in rooms made of glass and pale wood, riding at the front of the national guard as we barricaded the forest. I met with success–the logging operation was shut down, the ringleaders arrested. The queen was pleased.
I found two things about the dream particularly striking. First, my clothing. I wore clothing that put the wardrobes of even my wildest, most extravagant dreams to shame. Gowns of satin and velvet, long trains of silk so fine it was nearly translucent, embellished with gems the size of duck eggs. Enormous, stiff collars that commanded attention. Jewelry made of so many sparkling stones that they formed a bodice all their own. Awake, I recognize these things as likely impractical and probably uncomfortable. Dreaming, they–and I in them–were mesmerizing. I was radiant. Wealth and glory reflected from every facet of every stone adorning my body.
But if the clothes were mesmerizing, the power was breathtaking. It felt like coming home after a long stay in a country where I didn’t know the language. It felt like I imagine a mermaid feels when returned to the ocean after being marooned on land. It was effortless, like I had been born in command. The men around me did as I commanded. I accepted counsel, of course, but my decisions, once made, were not questioned–only swiftly and expertly executed. It was not just the reactions of those in my command that were noteworthy. Internally I was an ocean of calm. I had no doubts. There was only assurance.
I have rarely, if ever, experienced the total exhilaration and skill mastery I felt wielding power in that dream. The only comparison I can think of is the feeling of taking off while piloting an airplane. Breathtaking is the only description I can find that does it justice.
In the second dream, I was the commander of a starship. It was unclear, in the dream, if I was a Starfleet captain or perhaps Commander Shepherd, or someone else entirely. I was on a space station and there was some kind of invasion by a telepathic species. Possibly, they existed as part of a hive mind. It was unclear, and in any case we were too busy evacuating the station to deeply investigate their communication.
After the station had been evacuated, I ran past the invading force (who, rather like the Borg on their cube, largely ignored me), onto their largest ship. There, in the center of the ship, in an impossibly large chamber for a spacecraft, I encountered a puzzle.
It was an obelisk–a four-sided affair, engraved with symbols I didn’t understand. At various intervals, protrusions extended from the sides of the tower, up and up until they whole thing vanished from sight, like the world’s most difficult platforming game. The protrusions were much too far apart to use them to climb the tower, even if I had something like a grappling hook.
A voice boomed in my head. I was standing in the chamber of their god, and to speak with him I must ascend the obelisk.
As I stood at the base of the obelisk, the task became clear. Each protrusion from the obelisk required the deep feeling of a certain emotion. Concentrating on that feeling propelled you upward, flying through the air, to the next protrusion. Fail to feel deeply enough, and you fall to your death.
Fortunately, I’m pretty good at the whole deep feeling thing, and so I ascended the obelisk, feeling by turns love and despair, sadness and elation, anger and content. Sometimes my concentration would slip and my ascent would slow perilously. But eventually, I reached the summit, the flat top of the obelisk where I met their god.
As it turned out, their god was some kind of extra-dimensional being, or something. (Zack and I commonly refer to these folks, especially as they appear in Star Trek, as “energy jackasses”). The obelisk, rather than just being an unnecessarily brutal way to cut down on visitors, was an unnecessarily brutal compatibility test. The god communicated by a sort of mind meld–it merged with my brain and walked through my life with me (non-linearly), experiencing things as I had experienced them. It was not a one-way communication, though–at the same time, I experienced some part of what it was to have this extra-dimensional existence.
I can’t describe the feeling now, but after I was done “speaking” with the god in the dream, I understood, with great certainty, what it meant to be a god, and why our deep emotions and experiences would be of interest to such a being. It was such an intense moment of clarity.
To my extreme disappointment, the clarity dissipated immediately upon waking. Isn’t that always the way it is?