The lucid dream

In an among the vast array of semi-medicated dreams I had last night, was the extremely rare “lucid” dream. A lucid dream occurs when the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. It is not when the dreamer hopes that they are dreaming, as in a nightmare when you say to yourself, “I wish I were dreaming” (and it later turns out you were). Instead, it is the sudden realization that you are dreaming and you can take control of the the dream.

The lucid part last night came when I was in a bookstore or library of some kind. I caught the title of a book. I don’t remember what it was now, but in the dream, I specifically remember committing the title to memory. I once read somewhere that one way to tell you are dreaming is to read something, look away, and read it again. If the thing has changed, it’s an almost sure sign that you are dreaming. (Because of the way the mind work, things are not static in dreams, but change rapidly as different memories are triggered.) I remembered this as I passed by the book and decided to test it. I stopped, went back to the book, and looked at it again. Sure enough the title had changed and I immediately began to shout out that I was dreaming. I decided to run down a long corridor, shouting this over and over again, just to prove I was in control. After that, the dream must have ended because I don’t remember much.

Now here’s the most interesting part to me. While I was dreaming, I was certain beyond any doubt that I was in control of my actions. I decided to run down the corridor. I decided to shout out the mantra over and over again. It was as clear and obvious as my decision to go for pancakes this morning. And yet, when I woke up this morning and thought about the dream, it seemed to me that I hadn’t decided it at all. The free will I had in the dream was noting more than an illusion, created by the dream. The dream was still very much movie like, and while I was an “actor” in that movie, I was merely following a pre-defined script. It made me wonder if anyone actually had a lucid dream, or if lucid dreams are nothing more than a wishful concept that allows people to act out their fantasies, but is forever unattainable.