Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reverse Dream Journaling

He kept a notebook under his pillow and every night he sketched out the basics of the dream he hoped to have. His sister said that was a stupid idea but the more he did it, the better he got, the more accurate his forecast, and the more remarkable the details his mind created to knit the dream narrative together from his conscious thoughts.

A man who could completely control his dreams, he suspected, could take charge of all aspects of his own mind, and, consequently, his waking world as well.

The talent to came as a great consolation after disappointment, of which a teenage boy’s life is rife, allowing him to rewrite circumstance in his favor. Annoyed by his sister, he dreamed life as an only child, a prince, worshipped as the reincarnation of a great warrior. Chastised by a coach, he pictured himself as the all-around gold medal winner in the intergalactic Olympics, where he competed against aliens of all shapes and sizes, in zero gravity. Rejected by one girl, he imagined a lifetime in which the object of his affection, and all her friends, served in his harem, an endless procession of sexual favors.

His grades slipped. He wrote dreams instead of studying, and if ever felt bad about scoring poorly, he simply wrote academic success into the theater of his mind. Despite his parents’ faith and his tested intellectual acumen, he only just got into his safety school. He enrolled as a psychology major and advanced some radical theories of personality development and spiritual enlightenment he had developed as he perfected his reverse journaling technique, but rarely followed through by committing his ideas to paper or attending class. Two years later, they asked him to leave the university.

He took it in stride. School had not featured prominently in his journals; who worried about such a narrow realm of influence when an infinite universe beckoned? Much mightier accomplishments awaited.  

With few needs—an apple and a bowl of ramen, a pen, a notebook, and a warm bed—he could devote his full attention to an ambitious project. Could he, in fact, expand the dream world by expanding his journal? Soon, half his day was consumed with the task of recording the previous night’s dreams and comparing them to his models, and the other half was spent designing the next night’s dream.

One morning, his sister pushed her way past the stacks of notebooks that grew like stalactites across the floor of his basement bedroom, and he wouldn’t wake up. Sometimes, his hand would move as if maneuvering a pen over a piece of paper, but no one ever saw him open his eyes or heard him speak again.