Dream by Nikhil Nirmel
A response to the Dream prompt
People love telling others about their dreams, but no one wants to hear it. Dreams are fanciful and immaterial. They’re stories that didn’t happen. They don’t carry the introspective weight some think they do. So, why burden others with the absurdity of what you dreamt? Keep that shit to yourself.
With that said, I would like to tell you about a dream I had.
In this dream, I’m on an airplane, flying coach to San Francisco. The plane starts flying low to the ground, which starts to concern me. Others on the plane, also looking out the window, don’t seem bothered, so I’m given some relief. Eventually, though, the plane gets so low that it lands on the actual freeway and continues taxiing on Interstate 5. The other drivers on the freeway get out of the way, but continue on their way. I look to my fellow passengers for solidarity in in the horror of what is going on, but they are all still totally chill, as if this were routine. So I don’t speak up, assuming I must be missing something. But now, I notice we’re approaching the Golden Gate Bridge. Our plane’s wingspan is far wider than the bridge, and clearly, as soon as we reach the bridge, the wings are going to be snapped off, and the plane will burst into a ball of fire and that will be the end of it all for me. Again, I looked around, and people were seemingly bored, checking their emails now. And right as we’re about to crash into the entrance of the Golden Gate Bridge, the bridge, itself, expands outward such that the plane’s wings fit right through. Street lights, pillars, semi-trucks all bend out of the way at the exact moment the plane would have struck them. My terror subsides a bit, but is replaced with confusion. Will I be crushed to dust the moment the laws of physics resume their grip on reality? Why is no one else freaking the fuck out?
My alarm went off, and that scared me even more. And for a solid eight seconds, looking at an unfamiliar ceiling of a hotel room, I still had that feeling of fear. How could space bend like that? Why was everyone seemingly unfazed? Is this real life or have I passed away? And then, the answer to every one of those questions hit me all at once: It was a dream. Just a dream. Oh.
And then I got out of bed.
And then I went about my day. Like nothing happened last night. Like nothing happened. Which should be surprising.
It should be surprising because I was just lied to by my very own brain. And I accepted that as the normal course of business. My unconscious mind made up some tall tale, scared the bejesus out of me, and exploited its close relationship with me to assure me of its truthfulness. As it caught me getting suspicious, it gaslighted me with some fellow passengers who strongly implied that I was the one with questionable sanity. You can’t deny that that’s some coldblooded psychological warfare right there.
And yet, deny I did. I went on to place blind faith in this mendacious organ to lead me through the day, to ascertain what is true, to discard what is false, to make sound judgements about my safety and prosperity for the rest of my life.
It’s a nightly routine that I go through, and that you do too. We go to sleep, subject ourselves to the purest form of deception, wake up, acknowledge the campaign of disinformation, shrug off the propaganda, and, heaven forbid, subject the dream’s recounting on others, as I have just done to you.
Ladies! If your man comes home at 5AM, whiskey on his breath, lipstick on his collar, glitter on his chest, and insists he was just held up at work, you dump his sorry, lyin’, cheatin’ ass, and never let him in your home again.
But that’s not the relationship we have with our brain. We catch it in lie after lie and continue to treat it as being on our sides.
I say we should more closely examine the relationship we have with our brain. That bond is, upon inspection, pretty dark. It’s abusive. It is tainted by storytelling billed as reality. Look no further than dreams, well-documented psychological biases, and optical illusions to know it actively lies to us. So, we should trust our intuition less. We should assume our assumptions less. We should be skeptical about what we know to be true.