As I was falling asleep the other night I had a fleeting thought about dreams right before I started dreaming and I thought, what a prescient time to think about dreams, but what a terrible time to remember those thoughts.
But what occurred to me was something like that what we were dreaming about was ourselves in past lives or future lives, or both mixed together. Not necessarily real past or future lives, but how we imagined those lives might be. So dreaming was time travel, in a way, or at least the illusion (hallucination) of time travel.
That's always been in the back of my mind because I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how my life would look from my younger self's perspective. Like, I probably think about it at least once every day. My younger self would certainly have a different opinion on my current self's surroundings - her boyfriend, her job, her looks, the bike she rides, the friends she has, the place she lives, the things she spends her time doing - than does my current self, who is relatively bored, or at least jaded, by it all.
But when I imagine my younger self's reaction to my current self, I'm only looking at a span of two decades at most, and usually less (because my four year old self would not have an opinion other than to want to go home and play the piano). When I look at dreams I imagine it's centuries, sometimes millenia, in the case of those really weird ones where you can breathe underwater, or tidal waves deposit you on deserted beaches, or you can fly effortlessly, or the air is made of smoke.
The feeling I get in dreams is so unlike anything I ever feel when I'm awake. It's an almost proprietary mix of wonder and familiarity. I'm basically unflappable and react calmly to any bizarre situation that's thrown at me, while still maintaining that what-the-fuck feeling you'd expect from being immersed in unpredictable weirdness. Half of me doesn't know what's going on, but the other half already knows how to react according to whatever dream laws of physics apply.
But the familiarity is almost a deja-vu kind of familiarity, which never fails to make me remember dreams as 'that time I time-traveled to the past', or to even think, when I wake up, 'oh... I'm back here...' as if I were somewhere way, way ahead of right now.
Like I had changed so much that what I left behind felt like a dream. I had changed so much that what I changed into felt like a dream.