Monday, July 12, 2010

Real Time


Every now and then, I wonder if I am already dead, and if what I am thinking at the moment is my brain’s last attempt to communicate and understand before it finally expires. I might be stretched out on the ground, or in my bed, murdered, the victim of an accident or a heart attack, bleeding on the pavement, surrounded by strangers, loved ones, or friends — or as yet unnoticed and alone, the unfortunate task of the first person who finds me.

It’s funny, in a way: Here I am, dead, and yet think I am alive, and that I am writing about wondering if I am dead — just after, or perhaps even during, the event of my death.

One day after school when I was in the fourth grade, my mother was waiting in our dingy-brown 1961 Chevrolet Impala in front of the building to take me to my piano lesson. As luck would have it, I was running on the sidewalk, then I slipped, fell, and momentarily lost consciousness just a few feet from the car. While I was out, my mind kept working. I saw myself climb into the car next to my mother, then I saw her pull away and start down the road, and then I saw us driving through the country to the white two-story house where my piano teacher lived.

When I opened my eyes, I was completely surprised to find myself still at school, and to learn that something that had happened had not happened.

Well. Apparently I am still alive, for I have been sitting here for some time. Or have I? Years ago, in a matter of just a few seconds, my brain created an entire trip down a country road. It is also known that long, complicated dreams can take place within mere moments of so-called “real time.”

Maybe this is a dream. Or, maybe you are the one who is dreaming. It might even be that we are dreaming together, that we are living inside each other’s dreams, and that those dreams are being lived inside an even larger dream — one that is infinite in its complexity and cosmic unimportance.

Yes, yes. I know. I could go on like this all day. Or, maybe I already have....

From Songs and Letters, originally published April 6, 2006.


Update:
In the Forum: Proustian blather.

15 comments:

Willy. said...

Let's share dreams!
The reality is alraedy divided.

Elisabeth said...

A wonderful dream, William, or fantasy or fiction or whatever else you might like to call it. Life and death rolled into one.

Last night I dreamed I had a brain tumour, in a dream so real, I had to wake out of it to realise that I was not about to die.

Dreams may be a way to rehearse our deaths not just our lives. This dream I had last night seems to me to have been a way for me to rehearse the day when I will or I might discover the diagnosis of some lethal disease that will kill me if an accident or death in my sleep doesn't get to me first.

I like this idea - our dreams as rehearsals for death. At least in our writing about our dreams we can regain some control.

In our dreams themselves as in life itself we are mostly out of control.

Thanks William.

Janice said...

"Real Time" is but a moment because within seconds it becomes the past...

"Death" maybe each time we sleep, we get a little closer...

Love this William as I do all of your words.

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

Your post today is really interesting and make me thinking about this fact...

"When I opened my eyes, I was completely surprised to find myself still at school, and to learn that something that had happened had not happened".

Sometimes I think too: It's all an illusion..., but I think that, than life brings us back, I don't know whats happened trought a temporary loss of consciousness, but I don't know why, but I think must be in a strange way almost sweet, I don'´t know..

Anthony Duce said...

I thought I was the only one not knowing where I am most of the time. I'm glad I have some company between the dream world and whatever is real time.
Thanks.

William Michaelian said...

Good idea, Willy, thanks! And someday, maybe my reality and your reality can meet for a nice cup of coffee somewhere....

Thanks, Elisabeth. At least in writing we can gain a sense of control. And of course self-understanding is what we’re really after. Your thoughts on dreams as death-rehearsal are intriguing, and I think can be carried over into our waking hours as well.

Thanks, Janice. And I do believe the terms “real time” and “death” are better off with quotes around them. Sometimes I feel I should have quotes around myself. Maybe we all should.

It is sweet, Laura, I think you’re right. We’re touched and moved by so much we don’t quite understand, or that is beyond our senses. It’s nice simply to feel our way....

Thanks, Anthony. Indeed, I think it’s more crowded in here than we realize....

Woman in a Window said...

I laugh, William, for our absurdity and infinite complexity and cosmic unimportance. Ha!

I've never had quite a situation like your becoming unconscious. I do believe that would be both unsettling and tantalizing.

xo
erin

William Michaelian said...

Erin, if it ever does happen, let me know if you see my piano teacher. You will know her — she’s a lovely lady with white hair and a soft Texas accent. Long fingers, gentle dignity, a widow.

Gerry Boyd said...

cf. life on the Bardo Plane

William Michaelian said...

Gerry, you are hereby invited to remove my head. It unscrews quite easily at the neck; simply turn it counter-clockwise. What you do with it afterward is your decision. I certainly won’t be needing it.

Gerry Boyd said...

I can use it as a portable witticism generator, earning a nickel a quip.

William Michaelian said...

So, then — the price has gone up?

Gerry Boyd said...

Bernanke's fears of deflation have been vastly over-hyped.

William Michaelian said...

Hey! — I said counter-clockwise!

Gerry Boyd said...

ha! now you owe ME a nickle