The Scary Filing Cabinet

Last night I was sitting with my dog, Howdy, out in my shed watching Carla Aragon deliver the Eyewitness News. Since the news was on I figured it was somewhere around 10:15, but when I looked at my watch I saw that it was actually 11:30. Hm, something must have postponed the newscast, I reasoned, as I pushed Howdy down off my lap. Strange.

The bigger problem was this: the last thing I remembered was not being able to get to sleep at about 2am, so I was missing an entire day’s worth of memories. Then two other things occurred to me. I never let Howdy in the shed with me; she’s too needy and spastic. Also, Carla Aragon hasn’t been anchor for months.

The solution? I was dreaming... and I realized I was dreaming while still in the dream. To test my theory, I tried to close the drawer of my filing cabinet. The filing cabinet pushed me violently backwards and I woke up yelling.

This Lucid Dreaming, as it’s called, is very rare for me - I’ve only done it a couple times before that I can recall. Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan books teach that you should try to look at your hands in a dream, only looking up from them in quick glances, in order to see relevant details of your dream environment. I suspect our friend Brutus De Cervantes is especially adept at some technique of lucid dreaming in order to have such vivid memories of his dreams on such a regular basis.

Once, I dreamed I was sitting at a table in my high school cafeteria. It was night and quite dark, and seated across from me was a woman in a jeans jacket whose face was hidden in shadows. I looked at my hands, as Don Juan instructed, and when I glanced up I saw a section of chain link fence. I looked down at my hands again. When I looked up again the shadow woman was again sitting across from me and... she lunged at me! I woke up terrified.

Another time, I dreamed I was in the front yard of my childhood home on a bright summer day. Again, I looked at my hands but this time the skin flaked off of them over and over again, like dried playdough.

Last night it didn’t even occur to me to look for my hands. Instead, I foolishly challenged the filing cabinet and rightfully got the crap scared out of me. Still, it was interesting. I’d like to do it more but it sounds exhausting to try when I just want to get some sleep. Is it more common with other people, though?