Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Thank you, Morpheus

I feel like I’ve lost a friend. It’s not often that you discover a fictional character so vivid that you feel like you know him personally. I felt that way about Morpheus, the lord of dreams and the principal character in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. I finished reading the last of the books in the series last week and as soon as I did, I realized I was going to really miss Morpheus. Damn you, Mr. Gaiman!

Since I no longer had new stories about Dream to read, I started to think about the nature of dreams. And thinking about dreams made me think of the world of dreams as a hall of mirrors.

Some of those mirrors distort. I look inside them and see my sleeping self reflect back at me a twisted reality. Sometimes that reflection is shrunken and sometimes it is magnified. But one way or another the image it casts is a familiar one, just slightly pallid and a little out of kilter. These are the dreams seen in funhouse mirrors.

Sometimes the mirror is like Alice’s looking glass. I lean in for a closer look and fall through it into a world beyond imagining. I have dreamt of flying, of feeling the wind touch my hair. I have dreamt of falling and of knowing that no matter how far I fell, I would not hit the ground. I have had dreams where I was suspended in a bubble from within which I explored a world of wonder. These are the dreams that open a portal into the fantastic voyage.

And sometimes the dream is a mirror of crystal lucidity, silvered with the purest self-knowledge. I look at myself, past my eyes, into my own soul. I see in vivid color my deepest hopes, even the ones I dare not speak aloud in my waking mind. I see many futures, colored in colors more true than any limp imitation of truth that conscious reason might scavenge. I look into myself and the naked honesty of that gaze is so piercing, it intimidates. I had such a dream when I was six. I had another such dream last month. And I remember both of them as vividly as if I were in them right now.

In The Sandman, the dreamlord Morpheus induces Shakespeare to write The Tempest. And it’s in The Tempest that Shakespeare wrote

…. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

The idea fascinates me that I was born from a sleep that I will one day fall back into, and that what I experience in between as a life is the most vivid dream of all. I like the idea because if this is a dream, then that is good because in a dream anything is possible. And perhaps the dreams that I dream when I think I am asleep are beacons showing me where my waking dream might take me.