I’m a lucid dreamer. I am somewhat conscious during my dreams, I’m aware that they’re dreams, and I can influence their content somewhat. However, there seem to be certain inherent rules or limitations to what I can do.
One limitation is that I can’t make sudden, drastic changes. If I try to make things appear from nowhere, or disappear before my eyes, it breaks the dream and I wake up. So if I’m being chased through a shopping mall by a flesh-eating zombie, I can’t just make the zombie disappear. However, I can remember that there’s a sports shop around the corner with a good supply of baseball bats and a few rifles behind the back counter.
Another rule is that things have to be somewhat realistic. They can be bizarre or surreal, or can obey unusual laws of physics, but they have to be basically believable. So if I try to dream that I meet Jeri Ryan at an SF convention, that’ll work; if I try to dream that she finds me irresistably sexy and invites me back to her room, something in my brain or in the dream world will say ’Uh-uh, no way, ain’t gonna happen’ and I’ll wake up.
I can do things when I’m dreaming that I can’t do in real life. However, another rule of the dream world is that I have to learn new skills—just like real life.
The first thing I learnt was how to become invisible. It helped a lot with nightmares when I was a kid. However, it wasn’t a complete solution, because some monsters have a good sense of hearing, or could smell me. The obvious solution was to learn to fly; it was hard work, though. Initially I couldn’t get far from ground level, unless I was lucky enough to drift higher without realizing it. The breakthrough came when I realized that it didn’t work the way people always portray it as working in films; you don’t fly like a bird. It’s more like swimming through the air. I’ve pretty much got it mastered now.
A more recent skill I’ve developed is the ability to pass through solid objects. I’m still a beginner at it; it’s somewhat uncomfortable, and I have to brace myself, so I tend not to do it very often.
The fact that it takes years of practice to learn a dream skill implies a sense of continuity… and indeed, the dream world does seem to have continuity. I’ll sometimes have several dreams on successive nights that make up a longer dream. Some locations crop up again and again, and remain mostly consistent. Interestingly, even completely imaginary locations have some continuity.
On the other hand, dreams also repeat, so time in the dream world isn’t strictly a linear flow from past to future. The repetitions aren’t complete verbatim ones, though; generally once I realize I’ve encountered the scenario before, I can use information from the previous time to help me. I also get to use any new skills I’ve learnt—sometimes I’ve had a single repeat of a dream many years after the original.
I’m not sure what any of this means, if anything. I just find it interesting.