Learning to fly

by Suw on

There are two sorts of blog post: posts written for the reader, and posts written for the writer. This is definitely in the latter category. Equally, there are two best sorts of dreams. Flying dreams and lucid dreams. This post concerns both.
I dream of flying fairly frequently, but not as often as I would like. As a child, I would pray for wings. I could think of nothing better than soaring like a bird over the world below, independent, free, alone. I'd also pray for a tail and antlers, but that's a slightly different story.
I don't remember precisely when I had my first flying dream, but I do remember it. Flying over a river delta with a flock of geese. I remember another too, leaping from the top of a cliff that was miles high, and soaring down through the air to swoop up again long before the ground reached up to claim me.
And so the flying dreams have continued. Recently, I have had quite a few, but they've been sad attempts at flying. I've had a hard time getting far off the ground. Last week I had a flying dream where I could barely get as high as the tree tops, could barely feel the air around me.
Lucid dreams, too, are fun. In case you don't already know, a lucid dream is one where you know you are dreaming and you can control the dream to some extent. Usually when I have a lucid dream I wake up fairly rapidly after realising I am dreaming. This pisses me off no end.
There are tricks to lucid dreaming, and the first is how you realise that you are in a dream in the first place – abnormal things happen, clocks change times, text on signs changes or is gobbledegook. And there are tricks to staying in the dream, although none have worked for me. The key, apparently, is to keep moving.
Last night – or rather this morning, as I woke from it at 7am on the dot – I had a lucid flying dream, and it doesn't get better than that.
So, here is my self-indulgence, my dream. There's no onus on you to read – this really is for my benefit more than yours.
I'm sitting in a typical English pub. It's dark, smoky, the wallpaper is strongly embossed and painted a nicotine colour. In the corner by the bar sits my flatmate, a woman of my age (here, mid 20s I'd say) whom I obviously know, yet do not know.
We sit watching some cooking programme on the flatscreen TV that's mounted on the wall. The chef bones a fillet of salmon. As he pulls free the fine bones, he throws them to one side, straight at the camera. Except, the bones come through the TV and land with a rustle on the copy of the TV Times that I am reading.
“That's peculiar,” I think. “That doesn't happen in real life.”
I pick them up and feel them and I look at my flatmate.
“You know what this means?” I say. “I'm in a dream. This is a dream. And you know what that means? It means I can fly!”
I leap upwards, and yes, I can fly. I run out of the door into a dark, dingy alleyway, turn up and run towards a park. There I throw myself into the air and fly, round the trees, up into the sky, then back down again.
But, of course, parks aren't safe places for pretty blondes late at night. As I delight in my new abilities, a nasty, brutish guy, only a teenager, makes for me. He attacks, but I leap upwards. My standing leap is not so good, and I make it only just out of his grasp. He swears at me, and I strive to fly higher. With no wings to flap, it's just me and my mind.
He circles below, cursing, and straining I alight on a treetop. There is a broken branch balanced precariously there and momentarily I consider heaving it from its perch to crush the brute below, but I don't. I have not the strength.
I wait a while, until he has given up and gone, then I fly myself down. I must learn to control this new gift, to improve my take-offs. I start to walk home.
I get as far as the pub, and I turn down the dingy alleyway, narrow, dark, forbidding. Strung across from tenement to tenement are wires – electricity, phone, whatever. I take notice of them now. They are in my way.
I hear footsteps behind me. This is not good. I start to run. I'm not far from home. I can't fly – the wires stop me taking off. The man chasing me is getting nearer. I struggle with the door to my tenement building and run up the stairs to my apartment.
I push open the door, its lock is broken. Hurriedly I pile up as much furniture as I can in front of the door. A coffee table. A chair. A bookcase. Then I turn to the desk in front of me. Four beige PCs, networked together, and a single Mac. Scared, but desperate, I open up the Mac and take out the hard drive which I know I have to save. I shove it into a bag, and push up the sash window.
There is a long drop below me. Above me is freedom. I clamber out of the window. Behind me, I can hear the man pushing at the door. The precariously stacked furniture won't hold for long. I put the bag across my shoulder and glance back at the door.
I have no choice. I have to trust my ability to fly. I have to jump. Or I will die. Yet if I jump, I might die anyway. It is a long way down. I ready myself, I prepare to launch myself into the void, to commit myself to trusting this inexplicable, illogical ability to fly.
If this were a crappy novel, this sequence would end here with an 'and then I woke up'. Sadly, my subconscious is about on a level with the crappy novel, and I actually did wake up at this point. I wasn't woken up, I woke up naturally. So I don't know if I made it, although my lingering feeling is that I did.
All I hope is that I get to fly again. It's the closest I'll ever be to true freedom.

Anonymous October 23, 2004 at

Learning to fly shouldn't really be that hard, if you believe this story about a mass of neurons extracted from a rat's brain gradually learning to use a flight simulator (via Ben Hammersley). Puts our anxieties in perspective, don't it?

Anonymous November 5, 2004 at

I rarely recall dreams, although the ones I do remember are usually a)erotic and b)lucid
Unfortunately, I tend to wake up before the climax of the dream. Very very frustrating. As soon as it gets good I realize it's a dream and despite struggling hard to stay asleep I pop into wakefulness. *sigh*

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