By Christoph Gassmann, Horgen, 2012 © 2012
I would like to tell you a story about my sometimes successful attempts to soar consciously through the skies of my dreams. It is a fictional story, but it is based on a compilation of my lucid flying dreams. For this I would like to introduce you Jacob, my alter ego. He is a valuable member of our society (of course), but he is not always comfortable with that. Here is his story:
Jacob headed home and got on the commuter train at the main station as always. It had been a day full of hard work and he felt somewhat depressed because the things did not work out as planned. He took a seat in the first compartment he entered, leaned with his shoulder against the cool wall and stared out the window completely lost in thought. He was waiting.
Finally the train started to move.
In the meantime the compartment had filled up to the last seat but Jacob didn’t realize it. After about three stations he left the train because he had the feeling he was where he should be. The pneumatic doors closed behind him with a suppressed hiss and the train slowly left the station. As always Jacob went to the underpass.
With a well practiced routine he went down the stairs and hurried to reach the exit at the top of the other stairs before the mass of the tired commuters got there. Skillfully he got out of the way of the others and indeed reached the exit as one of the first ones to do so. But the usual panorama didn’t await him there.
In front he saw the valley station of a really old and rickety aerial tramway and, further away, a golden dome gleamed over the roofs in the late afternoon light of a clear fall day. He awoke from his gloom and asked a passer -by where he was. “In Freeday”, was the prompt answer. But this was absolutely not the place he was headed for because he wanted to go home! So he considered taking the train back, but the sparkling atmosphere of fall day made him want to stay where he was.
Why not break the routine and dare a little adventure?
So he entered the wobbly tramway. Although the metal chassis was rusting, the sand-colored, wooden paneling of the lift cage, bleached by the sun, radiated a dreamy coziness. It smelled familiarly of old, worm-eaten wood. Inside he sat down on a decrepit bench. The old, slightly bent head of the station agent came, greeted him, charged him two coins and closed the car by putting a light chain across its entrance.
Jacob could not resist smiling mildly as he saw the unsuitable bolt mechanism. A doorbell, like one he knew from the electric construction set of his childhood, rang and shortly afterwards the car started to move with a jerk, causing it to swing a bit back and forth several times.
It left the station and Jacob was immediately surrounded by the clear light of the late fall day. Beneath him he was astonished to see again the glittering golden dome which he associated more with the tales of 1001 nights than with his everyday life. Later came a forest in red and yellow leaves, but soon the car gave a light jolt as it passed over the wheels of the mountain station and came to an abrupt halt with a short screech.
As soon as the car stopped swinging Jacob opened the light chain, crossed the dark station entry and entered the light -flooded wood. Relieved, he took a deep breath and mentally left the milling crowd of the town, the cares, and evening commuters.
Dreamy he strolled through the wood and followed a path which ended after a quarter hours walk at a vantage point. Jacob felt at ease. The wonderful panorama was spread out before him. The air was clear, the sky deep blue and the sun had crossed the zenith quite some time ago. Below him a broad valley extended with brown and yellow fields as well as hamlets. Suddenly Jacob was awake, wide awake.
A cool-warm breeze caressed his body and a sparkling shiver ascended his spine. Jacob was vibrating with sheer life; a pounding buzz pulsated through his body. He moved to the edge of the vantage point’s concrete slab and stepped into the air above the rocky abyss, which went down at least 200 meters.
Jacob went on over the non-existing ground till he reached the colored crowns of the trees before him, then he changed his direction and moved like an elevator slowly upwards, leaving the trees below him. Now he was surrounded solely by airspace. The sunlight and the intense colors of the landscape washed round him.
Completely ecstatic he decided to go over into a nosedive.
He bent his body, placed his arms on his sides, and shot down vertically like a dive-bomber into the depth of the golden shimmering day. Now he consisted only of ecstatic vibration. He put himself into a steep climb about 100 meter over the valley bottom so that the centrifugal forces pulled heavily at his body.
With the enormous momentum of the nosedive he shot up into the crystal blue of the sky. He gained height. Up, up he wanted.
The landscape below him sank slowly away. He passed some fair weather clouds; above him remained only the radiating and intensely blue dome of the sky, which became darker the more he shot up. Slowly the momentum of his flight was exhausted and Jacob went satisfied over into a gentle glide. He spread his arms. A pleasant wind blew and gave him enough lift that he was able to pilot effortlessly with only minimal movements of his hands and arms.
He sank slowly towards the fluffy clouds. The radiating sun was already close to the horizon. He piloted well-aimed towards a small cloud and let himself sink into it. A pleasant humidity caressed his skin on his face and arms; he was surrounded by thick fog. But soon they resolved into shreds and Jacob could see again the landscape below him. The clear long shadows heightened the contrast of the hills, valleys and houses.
To his astonishment he noticed a hot-air balloon about 100 meters away with passengers who clung to the edges of the basket, terrified by their great height. Distracted by the airy vehicle Jacob didn’t realize it when he crossed the trajectory of a big and colorful bird. With a brisk maneuver he moved down to the right and the bird croaked wickedly behind him.
Below him he saw a nice, old and little town and he decided to visit it. In big curves he circled down and discovered a medieval city gate. A young girl with long fluttery hair appeared beside him and he winked at her. Before them was the city gate and both shot down in a daring race to find out who was the first to fly through the gate in a daredevil parabolic flight.
Jacob managed to be first and stabilized his flight at the rooftop level of the medieval houses which lined the main street. Unfortunately the girl had disappeared and so he scrutinized the shady lane which appeared a bit dark and narrow after the previous open sky full of shining light.
Below him was bustling activity shortly before store closing time. Some cars and many pedestrians pressed through the narrow lane. Nobody took notice of him, although he hovered like a dragonfly only about 10 meters above them, once forward, once backward, once remaining still.
He even called them to come up to him because it was so beautiful. But not the slightest reaction was seen. So he reached the square in front of the church in the town middle by trying out flying backwards for a change. He did it simply by letting himself be pulled towards the church tower and watched the rows he was passing. Near the church tower he was seized again by his high spirits and circled upwards in narrow and quick corkscrew curves and, as his momentum was running out, he toppled backwards and shot down with increasing speed towards the cobbled square.
Shortly before reaching the hard ground he rose up in a tight curve and shot over the heads of the people that were there. Then it happened: A little boy told his father: “Look dad, somebody is flying there!” and pointed with his finger towards Jacob who had gained some height once more and came to a halt about 15 meters above the ground.
All faces turned up to him, some baffled, some shocked and some delighted. Some applauded merrily. “Ah, but this is only a parlor trick” an elderly man threw in, “such a feat does not exist. I am a teacher of physics and I know that this is impossible! This is a fraud!”
Another shouted: “It’s disgusting to behave in such a mean way. A decent citizen does not fly, particularly in front of the house of our Lord, Jesus Christ!” Another one interjected wickedly:”And after all, we work by the sweat of our brow and that fellow is mocking us diligent citizens.”
Those who were laughing fell silent under the tirade of abuse by the moralists and furious citizens, who got worked up in self-righteous wrath and dispersed into the nearby lanes, one after the other.
Jacob also felt more and more uneasy.
He hovered slowly sideward towards the town hall and passed through its thick stone wall. He had a strange feeling as he did so; the stones seemed to be denser than usual. He crossed a venerable, paneled deputy office and was suspiciously inspected by the town clerk who looked over his golden framed reading glasses.
Jacob caused himself to hurry up and to disappear through the next wall in the same way that he had appeared in the room; the amazed high secretary forgot to shut his mouth. After a corridor a thick stone wall came again but, there, Jacob got stuck.
With difficulty he managed to free himself by bracing himself with both hands till the wall let him go free with a squeaky sound. He sank to the paved ground behind the town hall. He felt restricted by the narrow lane. He followed it on foot till he left the town through a side gate without being noticed.
Before him opened a broad avenue that led to the train station square. There he intended to use the open space to start flying again but he could not seem to manage it. He only managed to perform some lousy jumps. The air felt like glutinous molasses, pressing him to the ground.
He tried again and again and, with supreme effort, indeed succeeded in gaining some height, but only up to the overhead telephone wires as well as high tension lines which obviously criss-crossed the sky over the square. It was too dangerous. Jacob gave up and decided to use public transportation.
Morosely he trudged through the subway to a platform where the next train would bring him home. “Fortunately I have a reduced-fare, easy pay commuter card”, he grumbled grimly and stared in the advanced twilight over the tracks into the void.
Next to him stood the girl with whom he had raced through the town gate, but neither recognized the other. The partially dimmed xenon lights bathed the platform in cold and pale floodlight, which let the shadows of the two appear unreal.
Now we leave Jacob at the station and hope that his train will come soon. I, however, would like to give you some hints for the interpretation of this dream story: Flying is a symbol for the freedom of mind and the brilliant, living and sparkling light is a symbol for consciousness in its quintessential natural state. An unusual course of his way back home in the evening allows Jacob to take note and break his routine. He wakes up to the freedom of his mind which has nearly no limits.
In opposition to that state is the conditioned mind, conditioned by our society.
It functions quite automatically along learned and a thousand-fold repeated patterns. Already in kindergarten we are trained to draw within the lines of the picture books and this we do lifelong: We move among limits we did not set by ourselves. These are the electric wires in the dream which hinder us in spreading out our wings of consciousness. But what are the obstacles that limit our mind?
Here we have the well-educated, informed and enlightened mind which has a very simple, but probably wrong explanation for everything. Then we have the petit bourgeois morality where each joy, each comfort and each adventure has to be earned with hard work by the sweat of our brow. Nothing is given freely without conditions. Furthermore, the religious view has to be mentioned which relies completely on scripture and dogmas that do not permit any personal mysticism and demands the submission under the shared view.
The middle age town in the dream story with its narrow lanes symbolizes the well-organized and maybe somewhat mean and petty spirit of the human community the sheer power of which flags Jacob’s freed mind. Without any company Jacob would be free, but completely alone.
Happily, the bureaucracy in our story does not understand what it is all about, because if it would, we would be forced to fill out a form for each flying dream and pay a tax on it. And what is the meaning of dimmed cold xenon light in a highly technical surrounding of the train station?
Before we are completely lost in this minefield, I would like to leave the reader his mental freedom. It is certainly true, however, that lucidity training is not only like a sweaty training in sports, but also involves conscious reflection on ones learned automatisms and a relativization of adopted beliefs.
But let’s return quickly to Jacob. In the meantime he must have arrived at his shady home after his escapist excursion. Probably he sits in front of his television set and watches a football game with a can of beer and a pretzel. By now, though, his mind is so dull and numbed that he does not even realize that the referee has ears like Mr. Spock.