Photo by Ryan Brohm via Iowa State Daily
Welcome to the LDE. When did you first learn about lucid dreaming? What did you think when you heard about it?
My childhood dreams were peppered with instances of lucidity, usually on the edge of nightmares, but it was in my early teens when greater degrees of awareness and control in the dream really manifested; I don’t think it was a coincidence that more powerful lucidity coincided with puberty, a growing sexual imagination, and sexual experience in the world. No one told me about lucid dreaming, or even took dreams seriously beyond how they were portrayed in common culture. I had only my own increasingly potent experience to work with.
Did you have immediate success with lucid dreaming, or did it take a while? What happened in your first lucid dream?
I grew up in a small town, before the internet, and had no resources for learning about dreams. Our libraries had nothing on dreams but Freud. In my teens, when we had moved to Chicago, I was able to order books that really opened my personal experimentation: Patricia Garfield’s Creative Dreaming and Charles Tart’s Altered States of Consciousness. Both were crucial in helping me discover the wider dream experience, in particularly being able to put a name to “lucid dreaming.”
My first extended lucid dreams were all about exploring my own curiosity, lust, and creative imagination; my very first solidly lucid experiences were all about flying. I worked on a flying technique (I evolved from the “swimming through air” movement to “take off like Superman” within a few years), exploring the homes, buildings, and landscapes of the dream, and, frankly, letting out some Hulk-level destructiveness that was an excellent and safe exercise of young male angst.
Lucid dreaming gave me an outlet that completely obliterated any need I may have felt in the world to do drugs or any kind of delinquent behavior. No amount of drugs (some of my friends were doing) could match my experience in the dream.
As you went along, did you have lucid dreams that surprised you? Or led to unexpected events?
There certainly are some surprises, no matter how much conscious control I exert on the dream environment. Example from a dream experience:
I am in a lavish apartment in a high-rise building in some futuristic city that resembles part Tokyo, Vegas or Dubai. I’ve become lucid and am exploring details in the apartment, such as product names of bathroom items like toothpaste containers. I look at shiny red prescription bottles, one is named Cloximorphin (I don’t know if that’s real or not). A jar of hand wipes under the sink is labeled, in generic block letters, “Clown Wipes.” I run the water from the nickel-plated shower (why nickel, I don’t know); I can make it hot, and I can make it turn cold. I go through the well-appointed rooms and know that when I open the master bedroom door, a beautiful girl will be in it. Then out of the big hall window I see flashes in the distance at the edge of the city, like explosions, and I hear a very familiar screech—the metallic wail of Godzilla. I decide I’m lucid enough to ignore that development, and open the master bedroom door; all the lights in the room are turned off but it’s lit with the reflection of the city lights and the fires in the distance; a very beautiful girl is seated at the edge of the bed looking out at the action. I make the mistake of looking out the window, seeing that Godzilla’s already crossed half the distance, headed straight for me. I try to make him disappear and he seems to fade out; I touch the girl’s shoulders, run my hand in her hair, turn her face to me—a gorgeous woman with an eye color I can’t quite make out. The room turns darker and I turn back to the window and of course, it’s Godzilla, now staring straight into the room. I try to stare him down, but between the dual excitement and inability to control his actions, I phase back into the world.
Now, I don’t for a second think that Godzilla “represents” anything; not sexual frustration, not any lurking danger in my mind. I like watching Godzilla movies. The most surprising thing to me these days is the innate ability of the mind to create an environment in the dream from my conscious control, but it simultaneously fills in the gaps and details of that world from a subconscious level, and I can’t predict what it will throw at me; in a way, that’s part of the fun.