Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More Swimming Pool Nightmares

I’ve started keeping a dream diary.

I did this a few years ago in India – I found by noting my dreams briefly upon waking, and then writing them up properly before bed, my dreams became increasingly lucid.

I developed a theory that by writing key words in the morning and then using them to trigger dream recall memory later, this built a “bridge” between conscious processes and the unconscious events involved in dreaming. This makes sense to me, as we know that the left hemisphere of the brain is primarily the “conscious” hemisphere and pretty much de-activates during REM sleep. The right hemisphere is the one that is largely "unconscious" and is most active during REM dream sleep. The bridge is in effect the ability to keep the left hemisphere moderately active when the right hemisphere is dreaming.

Within six weeks of this, I found I could be fully conscious within my dreams.

This was great.

This was very exciting.

The problem was that despite my potentially unbridled erotic intentions, I found I couldn’t actually trigger the content or nature of the dream. Instead I could only steer my own experiences (left, conscious hemisphere) within the context of what the dream offered (right, unconscious hemisphere).

I found that my dreams often follow regular themes.

Naked nightmares were once common. I would find myself wandering around my school looking for my shoes. I would search and search and not be able find them anywhere. It was only when I realised where they were (always in the toilets) that I’d discover that I’d actually forgotten to put on any clothes that day.

Believe me, you do not ever want to lucid dream this one.

Ever since this happened, I’ve had problems with swimming pools.

I find myself having to repeatedly check to make sure that I am in fact wearing my swimming trunks when taking the walk of shame at the swimming pool.

Last week as a case in point, was a close call. As I took the walk of shame, I noticed that everything looked quite different. The first thought that occurred to me fleetingly was to check that this was really happening and wasn’t a dream. The tiniest fragment in time later, the second thought was the realisation that if this wasn’t real and was in fact a dream, then the chances were that I wasn’t wearing my trunks.

An even smaller fraction of time after that I found myself frantically trying to convince my brain that I was indeed wearing my trunks just in case this was real and not a dream.

It wasn’t a dream, and yes, thankfully, I had remembered to put on my trunks.

What in fact was occurring was that somewhere deep inside my brain the realisation was forming that I was about to drop into the water whilst still wearing my glasses and rather expensive wristwatch.

Mind you, this isn’t entirely an uncommon happening. It is quite easy to forget that you are actually wearing your glasses. Recently I watched a certain relative of mine frantically searching for his glasses so that he could read the Sunday paper. I did have the great pleasure of pointing out that he was in fact wearing them.

“Next time – check for focus!” I advised him, a little too smugly.

What baffles me though is just what my brain was doing a few years ago when I sat down into a nice steaming bath full of scented bubbles whilst still wearing my dressing gown.

If I continue this sort of thing when I am older, no doubt I will qualify to be considered eccentric.

Meanwhile, back in the swimming pool, whilst I am in the undersized cubicle trying to work out, yet again, the most efficient way of getting my socks and shoes on without getting the socks soggy I hear a bright little voice chirp loudly somewhere in the near distance, “Mummy, how are babies made?

There was a moment of silence. I could imagine a mother’s face contorting as she worked out the best response in this most public of settings.

She took the brave option and didn’t respond.

MUMMY!” Shouted the not-so-little-voice this time, “I want to know how babies are made!

All other conversation in the changing room stopped at this instant. I heard a man a few cubicles down quietly Shhhhhhh the two small children he was dressing. All ears were tuned to the eagerly awaited response.

The mother chose the stock option.

“I’ll tell you when you are older.” I remember this one from when I was little and awkward too.

But Mummy!” the voice continued loudly. “I am a baby and I want to know how I was made!

Sensing a possible change in direction, Mummy shot back, “Don’t be silly, you are not a baby, you are 5.”

Almost a good manoeuvre...but only almost...

Never under estimate the logic of children.

Then Mummy,” continued the voice, “I am old enough to know how I was made!

The sudden bust of laughter from the cubical further down mean't that I missed the embarrassed reply.