I have long been fascinated by that narrow borderland between consciousness and unconsciousness. It’s a surreal place indeed. The creativity there is something I could never duplicate in the waking world.
Whenever I’m roused just as I try to make my way toward REM sleep, invariably the image that’s in my head at that moment is as surreal as a Salvador Dalí painting. Things defy gravity. They do not behave as one would normally expect. One time a ringing phone woke me up and caused the image in my head to pop like a soap bubble. That was disconcerting.
The archway to dreamland is an uncanny place where I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I lingered too long. The waking me prefers it when things follow the rules of physics. I like being able to predict outcomes. And if I’m honest, that border region feels slightly ominous. Like the old maps used to say, “Here there be dragons.”
One time, back when I was a freelance closed-captioner, I was desperately sleep deprived but trying to meet a deadline. One minute I was watching the movie and typing in the text across the bottom, and the next minute I was drifting. When my head bobbed down it woke me up.
When I looked at the screen, I noticed that I had typed, “Dreaming of whales dreaming.” This had nothing to do with the medical documentary that I had been captioning, but it had everything to do with the world I pass through every time I go to sleep.