I can fly in my dreams now
Published: 2024-02-19 . Back to ≈

I can fly in my dreams now.

I could not always have said this, even though I’ve been flying in my dreams for most of my life.I’ve spent far more dream-time grounded, trying in vain to regain the magical ability that abandoned me as soon as I became lucidly aware of it. No amount of leaping, jumping, or flapping avails to bear me aloft again, the secret of flight being lost to a deeper layer of the mind. In a word, while I could dream of flying, I could not fly in my dreams.

But here and there have been times when the gift of flight has been stable, even to observation.

  • I’m 7ish years old, and I discover that by peddling my legs as if riding an imaginary bicycle, I can fly. The experience is vivid enough to make me experiment with jumping from a garden retaining wall.
  • I have a floating (in the air) log. Not exactly flying, but if you had a log that you could use to float through the air, and that remained floating in the air even when you became aware of this strange fact, you might feel quite like you could fly.
  • I’m on top of a roof. There’s a constant wind which I’m able to ride by pinioning my arms like they are wings.

Meanwhile, over the years, the gravity seems to be slowing ratcheting down. My legs have never worked well here–they get stuck, locked up, responding only to extreme effort. But by galloping with my arms and letting my legs stream out behind me, I find that I can achieve good speed.

In time, something finally clicks, and the general pattern of sustained flight becomes natural to my sleeping self: To jump implies the existence of a downward force to jump against. It relies on lame, rigor-mortised legs and nothing else to combat that force. The very act itself implies a coming back to earth. True flight is something different: a mere matter of leaning into weightlessness; letting go of gravity; floating.

Here lies the secret of dream flight, in the fragile detente between some deep, world-modeling part slowly relaxing its reality-grip and an undefeatable 5yo will-to-flight part continually protesting the system and searching for exploits.

Flight, the actual dream thing, is mostly what a 5yo would imagine it to be. Zooming about, casually pretending not to notice the surprise and astonishment of friends and onlookers. Feeling supremely special.

But sometimes it is more than this: hovering thousands of feet in the air, taking in expansive views, wondering if the deeper mind will permit you to rise yet higher, and finding astonishingly that it has no plans of plummeting you to earth. Somehow, this is the true prize.