Sunday I was at a memorial for someone I thought of as an aunt through my teen years, surrounded by people who guided me through my formative years. As I sat in the church pew, during a lull, a spark of memory ignited and I recalled that last night I dreamt that I was being executed. I was going to get a lethal injection for a crime that I didn't commit. I believe the rest of my family was too, but I'm not sure. In any case, the battle had already been fought and I knew I was going to die. Most of the imagery was in a white cinder-blocked hallway, but the events were so cerebral that imagery wasn't that important. Emotion was everything.
The part of the dream that I remember involved knowing that I could pick my last meal, the last music I heard, and my visuals while I died.* And what it really involved was me accepting the quickly coming inevitability of my own death. It was REAL. Unlike my zombie dreams, which seethe with reverie, adventure, and independence, this dream shoved together my consciousness with the end of my consciousness. The processes I went through in this flash of night were genuine, even though I know the probable cause for profound feelings in dreams. While the processes may be an effect of my brain trying to sort out its intake, that doesn't make the lessons or the experience any less real or valid. It really jarred me, forcing me to not just think about the reality of death but to truly experience it, completely forget it for eight hours, and resurrect it in the midst of slight grief. And of course, once it's resurrected, that feeling can be remotely accessed; genuinely re-felt upon command. It requires that unconscious point of gullibility and spontaneity to tap that feeling truly. Quite an unsettling sliver of sleep, that one.
*For the record, salmon sashimi and mashed potatoes with Mom's eclair cake, Erik Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1, and Elizabeth Lake shore at sunrise.