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Dreamed 1990/2/13 by Chris Wayan

I'm at the mall when I hear gunfire in the street. Gunman enter, a whole line of them. I'm just behind the front line of people standing paralyzed with fear as the gunmen order people around. See one in a store near me and feel a horrible certainty I'm gonna get shot. Don't know if hiding or coming out and cooperating is more dangerous, but my body decides for me--I start slinking off, up a diagonal ramp, behind a line of hostages.

But I'm spotted and stopped for questioning. They decide to punish me as an example to scare the rest. I'm allowed to run, given a few seconds to run, knowing I have no chance: then their leader blasts me with his assault rifle. I'm hit many times, fatally. But though I know I'm supposed to dream now that the bullets go right through me, I KNOW I'm dreaming, and choose not to manifest them physically. I refuse to hurt myself.

Yet I act out my death, for the plot's sake! Because... the point of this dream-drama is to maximize my fear and humiliation. I have no right to change that. I'd be cheating!

But fear and helplessness is one thing, pain and injury's another. I'm not drilling holes through myself just to deepen some emotional point! There are limits.


A classic example of UNDERHAND lucidity! I do this a lot and suspect many dreamers do. The books I've read on lucid dreaming encourage critical thinking in dreams, so you'll notice discrepancies, so you'll realize you're dreaming and can do what you like. (Not that I think that follows, logically OR morally--how do you know dream people aren't real? Why be a selfish jerk just because you're dreaming? But I've addressed that in Lucidity.)

Lucidity has never been that hard for me. If I just tell myself I'll dream lucidly for a few nights, I start to, without critical thinking or guesswork. I just know.

But intellectual techniques ignore how I FEEL: like I don't really have the right to avoid the emotions my dream wants to bring up, even if they're nightmarish. "Maybe I need a nightmare. Or at least to look at these feelings." I don't tear up my newspaper because I dislike what happened in the world yesterday.

So I find myself making awkward compromises, as in this dream--I go along with the passion-play, even if I hate the feelings, but I block physical harm, because in my case it carries over too much into the waking world, making me sick or weakening my immune system. This may not be true for everyone, but it is for me.

My point is, if you try lucid dream techniques and run into problems, don't assume they're intellectual. Most of us have strong ambivalence about taking control, about what we deserve, or what we need...

... and, in many cases, rightly so.

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