Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there,
wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming
dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
– Edgar Allan Poe
Nightmares at first are dark, our deepest fears welling up from our innermost recesses, hitting every nerve, projecting out ghastly images.
I came out of dreams, the entrails of nightmarish hallucinations following me into the waking world. However, the more I ventured back into my dreams I realized I had been somewhere so unfamiliar, so distant both in time and space.
What I remembered, I latched onto, and like Theseus in the labyrinth, I followed the thread back into each dream. As soon as I awakened, I sketched what I saw, described what I sensed. The images disturbing. The trip nauseating.
Resurfacing from sleep I’d gasp for breath, an unseen weight pressing down on my chest. Lightheaded and dizzy–had I been spiraling out of control? Tense as if I couldn’t get a grip to stay above the ice, having slipped into frigid water. Panic-stricken having fled a persistent, inescapable pursuer through an exitless house of horrors. My worst fears realized.
Dreamers can travel to any place, to any time. Multidirectional timetravel. Not only that, but dreams are multisensory, interactional and multidimensional. We are able to live and experience the spacetime we visit.
and time by itself,
are doomed to fade away
into mere shadows,
and only a kind of union of the two
will preserve an independent reality.
— Hermann Minkowski, 1907 (one of Einstein’s teachers)
The phantasmic poetry of Minkowski’s words ring like windchimes. It always bothered me to hear science say we couldn’t travel into the past… I loved reliving history — in books, in movies… and in dreams. Maybe it was because I was a dreamer I understood how it’s possible to blast into the past and in the next moment, switch the dreamreel and leap into the future. Look left, see a scene from the past, move your eyes right and see into the future. Knowing our dreaming minds cannot distinguish reality from fantasy, it took me repeated dream reunions to recognize where I was going, to sort out what was happening, when and how.
The unbounded regions of space and time that lie outside the two cones are inaccessible to us. We could only ‘see’ them, receive signals from them, or influence them if instantaneous signalling occurred at infinite speed.
—Cosmic Imagery: Key Images in the History of Science by John D. Barrow (pp. 122–124)
At first there were only glimpses of landscapes winking in and out of my dreamsight. There were no matches for what I saw on Earth. I tried my best, using my earthly experience -using the stepping stones of the present and past–to find my way back to futurespace, and then on my return trips, to describe the explosive blast-trail that followed me and the aftereffects of cosmic travel.
To scout Earth-like planets, it’s necessary to go distances that go well beyond lifespans. Throughout history, the observable universe was one that the deeper into space we looked, the farther into the past we saw. For these missions, we needed dreamers who were used to multidirectional time travel, who could see into the future.
My team when we met weren’t scientists or astronauts. We came from all walks of life. We work together but go our own ways, creating cosmic maps of the future.
During our layovers, like deepsea divers resurfacing, we decompress. We need to normalize our experiences because the destinations–sometimes like a house of horrors–and the monstrous travel conditions mess up our equilibriums.
Through telepathy, we are able to instantly communicate with each other wherever we happen to be. We are each a homing signal. We create and share dreamspace, an ability triggered in part by our love of storytelling.
“Are you awake?”
“Ready to relax?”
My partner and I combat our darkest nightmares by creating our first encounters, our quiet moments together, our first kisses — all those moments that we all, if we were able to, would bottle up and experience whenever we needed or wanted them: Love at First.
… I close my eyes, my face raised to the sun, its warmth covering me like a veil. I stretch my legs out in front of me, lean back and fly, then fall back gliding through the air. The forward and dropping motion like a feather sifting its way through layers of currents. This continuous motion hypnotizes me. On the next swoop up I lift off the swingseat and land, the kinetic force pushing me into my steps toward the river.
A well-worn dirt path trickles down to the edge of the rushing water. I walk alongside the river, the movement slow as a whole, but hurried once I see splashes running over larger rocks. Where the riverbed pushes up creating a shallow path, stepping stones emerge across. The first one is a leap, the second a bound, and I pause teetering, raising my arms out on both sides for balance. I stop and hear the applause of the ripples, the wind like a conductor swirling the leaves overhead to play a little louder. The two ensembles meeting to harmonize after their initial discord.
Having steadied myself, I skip across the rest of the way and make the last jump into soft mud on the other shore. I sink in, the soft earth welcoming me. I pull away, bringing some with me as I head for the large tree that I’ve used as a waypoint. Its age evident by the gnarly knots, its twisting, winding trunk extends into an intricate expanse of branches, which reach high into the forested canopy. The tree has countless ties to this place, deeply rooted alongside the river.
I climb through the web of roots, careful to get a good foothold, a good grasp, my hands clinging to the strongest both to ensure I don’t slip and also not to break off any of the veins that have allowed this tree to thrive all these years.
At the base of the trunk there’s a curve, a perfect seat for me. I curl up in this barky hammock and take a deep breath — leaves soaking in water, living and dried wood, the cool, liquidy scent of the river’s surface.
You’ve taken a different route to this spot, walking in from the other side of the park and through the trail in the woods here on the other side.
Another tree has grown alongside the one in which I recline, its trunk crisscrossing with mine. You lean against your tree, sitting. You first look out at the woods in front of you, but then shift your attention to me, at your right. I smile at you, resting my right cheek against the rough bark.
“Thanks for meeting me.”
“Wouldn’t have missed it.”
“Nice spot, huh?”
I lift my legs and move them over your lap. You rest your arms and hands on top of my legs. Grabbing my ankles, your thumbs massaging them.
The comfort you bring me makes its way to you in my stare.
that mists through me
has now found its place in you,
as it does me.
We both shut our eyes, but keep our ears open. We let the scents filter in. What we touch and what touches us blurs. The moment relaxes us and we relax into the moment.
“Windchimes” Love at First 10:43 11 January (41 years old)
Navigational Tool: When you can’t find your way, let love guide you.