Thursday, August 18, 2011

An Old Record

I've always wondered what it would be like to dream during surgery in which you had to be anesthetized. Would it be just like a regular dream? Would the sounds and dialogue in the operating room have some effect? Or would you be so knocked out that nothing even happens?
I guess it depends on how doped up you are....

So I guess I was really sedated last week.
I don't remember dreaming anything (although I woke up in the recovery room feeling like I did). It was the most relaxing sleep I'd ever had, not counting all the times I went into a coma-like state after staying up for days and nights during school. What's kind of weird is that I didn't feel like I slept. I was tired and groggy, but it felt more like I just blinked for a really long time.

After I went home, however, I lay on the couch and slept off the rest of the medication, dozing in and out all day. That's when things got interesting.
Mom and Anjel went off to buy some school stuff and I was left to rest in peace (not die). The only reason I was asleep at all was because of the remaining anesthesia, so I was as active in my thoughts as I would be on a regular afternoon.

The result?
My best friend, sleep paralysis!

I spoke with my sister that evening about my version of fever dreams:
I will be lying down on a bed or a couch, and I suddenly become very aware of what's around me. Astonishingly so; it's as if my senses are heightened. I don't move, I just stare at what's in front of me. And if it's a wall on the other side of the room, that's what I look at.
Maybe that's when I fall asleep. What I "dream of" is all of the details of that wall as if it was a mere two inches away from my nose. The texture becomes clear and elaborate. I look for patterns or pictures based on shadows, and I feel as if I can hear all that's going on around me.
At the same time, I am fully aware that I'm lying down on the other side of the room. I am completely calm and quiet on the outside, just staring...but in my head I think I'm screaming in the midst the humming of electricity. I feel myself moving slowly, but everything I perceive seems to be moving at a quick pace.
What the hell is that?? Sounds like a bad trip!

It's also what I experienced when I was all alone on the couch in the big living room.
Simultaneously with sleep paralysis (it was like a bonus).

I didn't have a fever at all. But I was having trouble with a few things in those couple of hours that afternoon. Just to name a few:
  • keeping my eyes open
  • being able to tell if they were really open at all or if I was dreaming (for all I know, they were wide open and my eyes were bulging out of my head while I was asleep trying to wake myself up)
  • making sense of what I was hearing and seeing
  • identifying who was in my house (nobody)

I kept seeing Mom walking around, coming in and out of the living room,
sitting down and turning on the TV to listen to the news,
reading a magazine,
telling Anjel to start cooking something,
talking to me and asking how I was feeling.....
For the majority, I was aware when I was dreaming because I would try to move, only to find out that I could barely shift over. Also, I listened very, very, very carefully to what was being said on the news in the TV, what Mom was saying when she spoke, and what I was reading on the paper suddenly in my hands.

It was all gibberish.
The red paper said, "Stephn visit nice will Visit."
...Yeah, that's not right, I told myself.
Truth be told, I was pretty proud when I gained enough control to comprehend that it was incomprehensible.

The most confusing of those paralysis dreams was when I felt a breeze. Mom came over with a magazine and started fanning me with it, and I felt it on my face. There was nothing strange or different about it, it was just a breeze. Before then, I'd already told myself I was asleep. But when I felt that, I forgot what I thought and started wondering if I was awake.
I tried to pry my eyelids open to see Mom as she turned and walked out of the room. I couldn't open them more than halfway, but I could feel her footsteps vibrating throughout the room as she left. I saw enough to see her shadow go, which was reason to doubt. But I could never see more than that of anyone. Shadows. Figments.
Come back.... Are you here? Hello?...... Mom? ...............
"Mom?" I accidentally said out loud to an empty house. I was awake.

Similar episodes played, repeated themselves, and mixed with each other until I gave up trying to decide which was real and which was fake. I just went with it. Before long, they were back home from running errands.

It led me to thinking:
What was it that made it possible for me to tell the difference? One of the easy answers was the quality of sound.
The sounds in my head were clearer.
How absurd of me to suggest that there's a clearer sound than reality.

But if you think about the fact that the laws of science don't necessarily have to apply to the imagination, and that sound doesn't travel in my head because it doesn't go anywhere to begin with..... then it makes some sense that voices seem just a little bit sharper when I'm sleeping.

Life is muffled. It's as if you've been watching everything in HD for a long time and then went back to a regular television screen. The quality's fine, but once you know a better version, you can pinpoint the needed fine-tuning.
The sound quality of being awake is like that of an old record player.
Actually, that's the impression I'm faced with for a split-second when I wake up to the sound of air. I forget it because I don't say it or even fully think it. But that's the best way I can put it into words.
And I've had a dream of an old record playing. Even that was clearer than a real one.

But old records sound beautiful with all their imperfections and weathering.

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