September 21, 2016

whimsy (n.) or "dream spotting" (vb.)

I’ve been practicing - or rather, reminding myself - to do more reality checking as part of my lucid dreaming practice. Meaning, when you notice something out of the ordinary, you contemplate whether you are dreaming. While you know you aren’t, it increases the chances that the next time you do notice an oddity, you will in fact be dreaming, and in asking yourself the same, you’ll become lucid.

Yesterday, after a lovely walk through Soho with my friend Jen who was visiting from NY, we spotted an umbrella in a tree. Reality check.

This practice, while helping me to achieve lucidity while dreaming, has also made me achieve a certain kind of lucidity when in the waking state. Every time I reality check, my heart also flutters a bit, excited by the whimsy of this incredible world. Even when awake, dream-like things can happen. If we awaken to them.

Take today for instance: A regular lunch-hour. I decided to walk myself with a cup of tea and a book to a very special spot by Hampstead Heath station, a few minutes from my work: The World Peace Garden. It’s a community-build space where people can come and sit and be in nature, amidst dreamy decorations of colourful notes pinned and fluttering in the trees, painted plant pots and laid out tree stumps for sitting, and wind chimes that somehow sound louder than the nearby trains that come into the station adjacent to the garden.

I made my way down the narrow little path, under the carved wooden sign reading ‘World Peace Garden’ and down a few steps and toward the ‘tree’ (though it’s all mostly trees). It’s sort of like a hut, demarcated by logs and stumps; the chimes and notes that I mentioned hang from various branches that have been strewn across the top to form a kind of thatched teepee roof. Almost a fake tree made of trees, if you will. And in the middle, if you’re creative, you can manage to find a way to plop yourself down in such a manner that it feels like a throne. I sat and took out my book and began reading.

Some time passed and a man approached me. Grey-haired, well-dressed, white collared shirt with sleeves rolled up, approaching me with clear eyes and a confident voice. I can’t quite recall what his opening line was, but it was enough to lift my eyes from the page and inspire in me an openness to the sudden interruption. I greeted him and agreed to listen to a story he wanted to share with me “about the Peace Garden.” Or rather, “a legend” as it were - The Legend of the Woman in the Tree.

The legend wasn’t much, but a simple description of the garden’s cardinal rule, that should one see ‘The Woman in the Tree’, one must approach her and ask her a single question.

“And since you are just that, the first I’ve seen, The Woman in the Tree, can I ask you a question? You must give a single reply.”

Of course, I said. And then he began.

“Why do I wake up and can’t sleep through the night?“

I pondered it a while, but an answer quickly rose to my lips and with a smile I said, “Because you’re dreaming.”

Having been experiencing much of the same thanks to my lucid dreaming practice (whereby I’d often awake after a dream, in the middle of the night, sometimes many times over, after each REM cycle). It’s as if your mind is telling you, ‘Wake up so that you remember.’ And so I’d awake, and remember what I had dreamt. And then go back to sleep, affirming in my thoughts a desire to become lucid.

The man smiled and seemed a bit perplexed. He promised he’d give it some thought. Think it over. “Thank you.” And before he walked off he reminded me, “ Remember now, if someone comes up to you with a question, you’ll know why. You’re the Woman in the Tree.”

And I guess I was. Soon, with a flutter in my heart, I returned to my book, asking myself if I were dreaming.

whimsy (n.) From whim (n.) “a sudden turn or inclination of the mind”, shortened form of whimwham, circa 1520s, unknown origin - perhaps from Old Norse hvima “to let the eyes wander,” or Norwegian kvima “to flutter”.

I wasn’t. But the whimsical quality of the moment stayed with me. And enough so that on my walk back to the office a little bit later, I noticed another anomaly: A bunch of papers stuck into the side of a plant pot, outside the White Horse pub. I read the first page visible.

Oh, and the book I’m reading? The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara.

[Originally posted as part of my life.actually adventures]

shorthand (n.)