Before I fell asleep today, I was feeling stressed over a certain situation in my life. In the spirit of mindfulness, I closed my eyes and focused on my breath for a couple of minutes. Eventually, this source of stress melted away, so I fell asleep.

Then I woke up at 3 AM, still fresh my mind this vivid dream. It played out this source of stress, which somehow touched upon every stress I’ve had over the past four years of my life. Most dreams span only a scene or a moment, but this dream contained within it multiple years of my life, starting with memories from high school (that didn’t actually happen in real life) to my life now. It was oddly cathartic. I never had a moment where all of my stresses were bundled into one moment, but in the few seconds between unconsciousness and consciousness, this was that moment. I felt like I was about to die because I saw the entire extent of my conscious life until now. I don’t know how to describe it, but everything made sense in that moment of waking. I made the realization that everything that stressed me over the years had the same source, and that source is my humanity. How I felt about different people and events in my life was just a projection of the same desire.

I was able to experience a life different from mine for an instant, where the source of my stress was resolved. My life played out differently from the path I have chosen — the counterfactual life — but being able to live a life that is not your own reminds me that there is no life in which I would be completely happy. I lived a life that was, in theory, the life I wanted to live but chose not to live. This dream world was far from the world I occupy now, but there were still problems in that world. Problems that were not resolved. Funnily enough, my subconscious projected that the solution to my problems was still to move to a hut in the countryside of Utah, which I know now from experience is not the solution to my problems.

The people that surrounded me were different, but the problems were the same. It is funny that even in my dreams I still have ample issues to deal with in my life. Even in this ideal world I have created, which fulfills all of my most immediate desires for connection and power, it still wasn’t enough. I still felt used, betrayed, and distant. I was still chasing for a life that was not my own, even as I was living out a life that supposedly fulfilled all my desire. What this tells me is that there is no point in life where satisfaction occurs. All we can do is to try our best to forget about our desires in the present in order to forget about our dissatisfaction.

I hate to say to myself I enjoyed this dream. It was so different from the mundane experience of everyday living. I don’t think I was happy in this dream world, but I wasn’t sad exactly either. I was disatisfied as I am now, but for different reasons. At least I wasn’t lonely in this dream. We seem to be quite incapable of feeling loneliness in our dreams. This dream contained people in my (real) life such a different role to the role they currently play in my life. Some close friends were distant, and some distant friends were close. It was a sort of parody world to the world in which I live right now. I don’t think I had any real friends in this dream, but I wasn’t aware of that I didn’t. And when you aren’t aware of the fact that you have close friends, then you can’t stress about the fact you don’t have any close friends.

I consider myself deeply not superstitious, but there’s a part of me that wishes that there was something more about dreams that connected us with the people we dream about. Realistically, this is just my subconscious trying to make sense of the desires for intimacy I have in my conscious mind. The dreamscape favors individuals who have more cultural capital than others, individuals who are more relevant and attention-consuming in your life than you would probably let on. We want to feel connected to these individuals, but we are unable to do so in the real world, a world we did not create. But I think there would be something cool about humanity being connected through a subconscious sphere. If only.

There’s a part of me that wishes I never woke up, so I would be able to see how that story played out. I was around the same age in the dream as I am now — although maybe older by one or two years — and it would have been nice to see what my future life would hold. Before long, as I continue to become conscious, I will lose my connection to this dream world. It will exit my immediate consciousness, and the reality of this current world in which I occupy will settle in. This is the world I live in, and the dream world is one I can never return to. I hope my future in this world contains a life that isn’t as turbulent as the one I have now. I also hope my future contains a life that still interests me and does not leave me bored out of my mind. That would be nice.

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