Floating

by Brandon

Normally, I’m not the dream-sharing type. I fully understand that 90% of our dreams seem awesome to us, but when we share them with others, they end up sounding more weird than awesome.

Well, I just had a dream that won’t stop lingering, so I think I’ll share it.

Now, before I tell you about the dream, I should give you a little backstory…

Lately (for obvious reasons), I’ve had the worst case of insomnia I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve hardly slept in the past four or five days. My mind just won’t shut down.

Well, last night (a few hours ago, to be precise), the exhaustion caught up to me. One second, I’m sitting on the couch, watching-but-not-really-watching the TV… the next second, I’m unconscious.

Ultimately, I only slept there for about two hours, but compared to the sleep I’ve had in the last week, two hours is a blessing. My body finally feels rested, if only a little.

Matter of fact, I feel like I might be able to go back to sleep shortly.

If I can stop thinking about the damn dream I had while I was out…

Yeah. While I slept, I had the most vivid dream I’ve had in at least three years. It’s now been about two and a half hours since I woke from the dream and it’s still the only thing I can think about.

And I’ll tell you up front… this dream is going to sound made-up. It’s just too perfect, wrapped up in a nice little narrative bow. There’s a good chance you’ll think I’m just writing fiction right now. I can only assure you that I’m not. This dream just happened. Apparently, my brain is just a narrative-driven beast, even when asleep.

Okay… with that little caveat out of the way, here’s  my dream. You can decide if this really is a haunting dream, or if I’m just over-thinking the whole thing…

Like I mentioned, at first, I’m wide awake. I’m sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, but clearly not watching TV. I don’t even known what’s on. I think it’s Saturday Night Live reruns, but I’m honestly not sure.

I blink.

When I open my eyes…

Clouds.

I’m floating.

There is no sound. There is no wind. There are no smells.

There are only clouds, flying all around me.

It’s like I’m floating in a purple sky, but the only sense I have access to is my sight. I don’t hear anything, I don’t smell anything, I don’t taste anything, and I certainly don’t feel anything.

I just see clouds, softly floating by as I seem to meander forward.

What is this? I think. Where am I?

A voice answers, but my ears don’t hear it. The voice is speaking to me from the inside. To be clear, it’s not my voice… it’s someone else. Someone… external. But he’s able to speak directly into my mind.

“You’re free,” the voice says.

It’s a male voice. Soft, but powerful. Strong, but kind.

I don’t feel free, I think.

“You are,” the voice says. “It’s my gift to you. I’ve given you absolute freedom.”

Where is everybody? I ask.

“They’re here,” the voice says. “They’re all around you.”

I don’t see them.

“I promise,” the voice assures me. “They’re here. You’re not alone. You are among them.”

Why can’t I see them? I ask.

“Because you’re free,” the voice answers.

I don’t know why you keep saying that, I argue. I’m trying to see them, and I can’t. I’m trying to hear them, and I can’t. I can’t even smell them.

“Can you feel them?”

Yes, I say, which is true. Although I can’t see or hear or even smell anybody, I can feel that I’m not alone. I feel other people around me. I recognize some of them. I feel my brother and sister… my mom and dad… my wife. But I also feel people I don’t know. Strangers, I assume, who are just floating along with me.

Why can’t I see them?

“Because,” the voice explains, “they’re free too.”

Do they see me?

“No.”

Why not?

“I just told you,” the voice says. There’s no annoyance in the voice. If anything, he seems entertained by my ignorance. “Because they’re free too.”

This isn’t freedom, I argue. I’m trying to see or hear them, and I can’t. I don’t feel like I’m free to do anything.

“I didn’t say you were free to do anything,” the voice says. “I simply said you are free, and you are.”

I don’t understand, I say. I really can’t do anything but float.

“I didn’t give you the freedom to do anything,” the voice explains. “I gave you the freedom from everything.”

I don’t like this, I say.

“You just haven’t thought it through,” the voice says. “I’ve freed you from your pain, Brandon.”

I suddenly realize he’s right. I feel no pain.

And it’s not just the physical pain that’s gone.

“That’s right,” the voice says. “The emotions that are keeping you up at night? Gone. No more cancer. No more pain. No more fear. No more sadness. No more guilt for putting your family through this. I took it all away, Brandon. You never have to feel that pain again.”

I close my eyes and lose myself in the nothing.

I saturate myself in the complete lack of pain. At one point, I actually try to feel scared, and I can’t. It’s just… gone.

And suddenly, I realize something that surprises me.

This doesn’t feel bad, I say, but it doesn’t feel good either.

“That’s the price of freedom,” the voice says. “You can’t pick and choose, Brandon. When I said I freed you from everything, I meant everything. That includes the good stuff.”

I don’t want this, I say.

“You just haven’t thought it through,” the voice says. “Since the cancer came back, all you’ve thought about is getting rid of the pain. The fear, guilt, sadness… it’s been plaguing you since you started the chemo again. I took it away for you. And I can keep it away, Brandon. Forever. But the price of admission is the absence of the other feelings too. The good ones.”

To my own surprise, I say, the cost is too high. Put me down.

“I’ll let you think about it a while,” the voice says. “We have plenty of time. Matter of fact, we have all the time in the world. And this is a very big decision.”

I don’t need the time, I beg. Please. Put me down.

“It’s going to hurt.”

I don’t care.

“When we land, it’ll all come back. Everything is going to hurt. It’ll hurt your lungs to breathe. The air will burn as it enters your mouth and nose. The sounds will make you feel like your ears are bleeding. It’s not going to be pleasant, Brandon. Not at all.”

I don’t care. Please. 

The clouds stop moving forward, and instead begin to move up. Of course, I understand that the clouds aren’t actually moving up. I’m moving down.

My feet land on something.

Rock.

I find myself standing on the edge of a cliff that’s sticking out of the clouds.

As soon as my feet touch the rock, I look up.

Other than the cliff, I’m still surrounded by the clouds… but this time, all my other senses are back. I can hear the wind. I can feel it on my face.

And I can now see the other people.

They’re everywhere.

Millions of people.

They’re floating all throughout the sky. Their arms are outstretched, relaxing lazily in the air as they float by.

All of their eyes are closed.

They pass each other constantly, almost touching.

But they don’t touch. Not once.

Instead, they’re all just floating… lost in their own nothings.

They don’t see each other, do they. They don’t even know I’m standing here.

It’s not a question.

“They don’t,” the voice confirms. “They’re free.”

I stand there, watching them not see me as they float by. I can tell they feel no pain.

“The pain’s about to come back to you, Brandon,” the voice says. “Any minute now. This is your last chance to avoid it. Give me the word and I’ll take you back up. Stay… and it’s gonna’ hurt. A lot.”

I continue to stand on the cliff, staring at the pain-free bodies floating by. I try to envy them.

I can’t.

“The tears are coming, Brandon,” the voice says. “If you want to go back up, it’s time to say so.”

I take a deep breath.

I steel myself.

I want to stay down here. I say. I choose the pain.

My eyes spring open and I’m suddenly awake. I’m in my living room, sitting on the couch. The TV if off, thanks to the sleep timer.

As I continue to reconnect with the waking world, I feel the pain come back.

Yep, I think. I’m officially awake.

The physical pain really isn’t bad.

The emotional pain is.

When I get up to go to the bathroom, I remember what’s been happening. I remember that I’m fighting cancer.

And everything comes back to me.

Fear.

Guilt.

Sadness.

Pain.

And that’s when I have a very surprising realization:

In that moment, I am happy.

I’ve been awake for several hours now, and yeah… I’m still feeling all of the shit that comes with fighting cancer.

And yeah…

In this moment, I am still happy.

Go figure.

–Bran

 

 


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzy Stewart Dubot April 12, 2016 at 12:15 PM

This reminds me of a story told about some Chinese who have been given the possibility of getting rid of all their problems by writing them on a piece of paper and throwing the paper on a heap of other people’s problems.
Everyone scrambles to try and retrieve their piece of paper, because they don’t want anyone else’s problems.
I can understand how revealing your dream was – and then relieving. It’s the combatant in you that rose to the challenge. A good sign, in my opinion.
Now let me tell you about my dream. I married my brother-in-law to spite his wife! That’s it.
You know that lying down does take the strain off your heart, etc. even if you can’t sleep. I do hope you’re able to sleep a little better, nonetheless.
Hug from one of those you can’t see. :)

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Brandon April 12, 2016 at 1:05 PM

Thanks, Suzy. I’m sure the sleep will come. And that’s a great dream you had there. :)
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