Lucid Dreams

My parents moved my yellow bed into their bedroom. My mother figured her chances of getting some sleep increased if her eight-year-old daughter was within hearing distance. 

It was one of many nights when sleep wouldn’t come. I waited. The wind hurling ice pellets against the dark window comforted me. It made me feel less alone. Finally, drifting off to sleep, my heart went tap, tap, tap interrupting my longed-for respite. The bedroom door opened and cold shivers moved through my body. An old woman wearing a long black dress with a shawl over her shoulders came into sight. She reached for the chair at the end of my bed, setting it down next to my head. 

Inching to the foot of my bed, averting her gaze, I climbed over the side of my bed to get to pabbi. Although mamma was my first choice, reaching her required walking closer to the old woman.

“Pabbi, pabbi,” I whispered. 

“Havð er að?” (What’s wrong), he asked, then looked in the direction I was staring. The woman was sitting on the chair, knitting a sock.  

By now, mamma was awake, “Hefur hún versnað?” (Is she worse?) Quickly out of bed, she put on a robe walking around her bed to me. “Hver hreyfði stólinn?” (Who moved the chair?) She sounded annoyed.

The next day the ambulance took me away. Eighteen months later, when I returned home, the yellow bed was back in my bedroom.

Lucid dreams are different from regular dreams. In lucid dreams, you know you are dreaming. “Hey, I’m flying” was one of my favorite childhood lucid dreams. I was conscious enough to realize I was dreaming I was flying, which meant I had some control. 

Regular dreams don’t offer conscious awareness. And that’s mighty interesting because the distinction between being aware or unaware in our daily life feels the same.

When we are awake and aware, we are not completely absorbed in the externals and our mind-made stories. We don’t get lost in every thought and idea that drifts through our minds.  

Regular dreams happen to us, and we have no control. Our awareness is asleep. Scary dreams hold us hostage. In a lucid dream, we know we are dreaming. Instead of running over the cliff, in a lucid dream we can turn and face the monster. Seated in the awareness of the Self, we are lucid. 

Moving through life, reacting to every bad report as a disaster is to live in a hazy dream. It’s not real. When the CNN headline states that the sky will fall without increasing the debt ceiling, I can panic (what happens in regular dreams) or see it as one person’s opinion (lucid dream). I don’t have to buy into other people’s worries. Yes, bad stuff happens. But worrying about it is paying interest on a debt I don’t owe. 

Twenty years after the woman sat by my yellow bed, I was having lunch with my oldest sister and pabbi. They were reminiscing about my Danish grandparents, pabbi’s parents, Adda had met a short time before they died.  

“Pabbi,” Adda said, “what I remember most about amma (grandma) was watching her knit. She’d sit for hours knitting socks.” 

6 thoughts on “Lucid Dreams

  1. Whether the dream is a regular or a lucid dream, the meaning is elusive, like life. I was certainly drawn in and found myself with lingering questions. Are readers to understand she was hallucinating when she saw an old woman with a shawl come into the room or was she seeing a spirit? The piece suggests her parents, unable to see, sent her away for what ended up being 18 months b/c they thought she was hallucinating. I assume that it was a comfort that 20 yrs later, her sister, Adda, identified the spirit as that of her grandma and validated the younger sister’s experience.

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    1. Sandra, I think my dad saw her because his gaze remained on her for several seconds. Later, after Adda left I asked him, “pabbi did you see the woman that night before I was hospitalized.” His answer was, “What I saw doesn’t matter. What you saw does.” I was hospitalized for a short while until they figured out what ailed me (TB) and then sent out to the country to a sanatorium. The last night I spent at Vífilstadir (sanatorium) I had a vivid dream of the woman. She told me I was all better now. The whole thing frightened me and I tried to put it out of my mind. But hearing Adda’s words brought it back, the incident and the dream.

      Thank you for sharing your reaction. It’s such a nice way to communicate with me readers.

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      1. I’m like a dog on a bone sometimes . . . especially about the supernatural! Please bear with me.
        So am I to assume your grandma was indeed a spirit and she came to your side – in spirit – to comfort you? Interesting 1) that the chair had actually been moved and 2) 20 years later your dad would not confirm whether or not he had seen her. You believe he did. You apparently knew not to question then or persist 20 years later. You obviously were very ill. Must have been so difficult for you, being away from family for such a long time. So sweet that she came to you in your dream to again comfort you and to assure you that all would be fine now.

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    2. Sandra, at that moment I had one foot in the spirit world and the other in the human world. It was unclear if I would make it. Anyway, the night before I returned home, the woman returned in a dream. She told me I’d be fine (whatever that meant). I never talked about this and wanted to forget it. It frightened me. When Adda said told dad about her memory of our grandmother, it brought back that moment and the dream.

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