“An autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful."
- George Orwell

One evening, when I was seven or eight, walking home from school, I nearly died.

I was walking past some scaffolding, against a building that was presumably being repaired. It was late summer, the sun was hot, and the workers must have gone home early because there was no one on the scaffold.

A half brick hit the ground with a loud clunk, a few inches to my left, and broke in two. If I'd been walking on a slightly different part of the pavement, I think it would have killed me.

I stood still a moment in surprise, and anger that some unseen person on the scaffold had been so careless. Then continued my walk home, pondering my own mortality.

About a decade ago, I slipped and fell from the spiral staircase in my home, landing painfully on my back, my head narrowly missing a lump of broken plaster.

Shaken, and not sure what else to do, I took myself off for a walk, discovering a new part of town that I'd never seen before.

The incident with the half brick really happened, but I can't be sure how much is memory and how much invention, because I don't remember it intensely, and I don't know how aware of death I could have been at that age.

The staircase fall I recall vividly, including how it felt to fall and land. Except it never happened. I've never lived in a place with a spiral staircase. It was a dream.

Now, I almost never remember my dreams, which is probably a good thing because those I do remember are nightmares. I remember the staircase-fall dream now because...

...because I've just awoken from another, similar dream, in which I remembered falling from the staircase and discovering a new part of town. I'm sure I didn't remember the staircase dream when I had it, but now I remember it because I remembered it in another dream - a decade or so after I originally had it.

Yes, I know, maybe I dreamed the memory. Maybe I really did fall from someone's spiral staircase as a child and half remember it, embellishing the memory and misidentifying it as a dream. And maybe there was no falling half brick all those years ago. I have fair certainty, but no proof and no way of knowing.

But this thing of remembering dreams (as reality) in other dreams (taken for reality), with years separating the two - that's happened several times before.

It's as though I have an entire dream personal history (composed mostly of nightmares), which is available to me only when I'm dreaming - except for those rare occasions when (a) I remember a dream and (b) the dream included memories of another dream.

I do not want to explore my own subconscious, uncovering dreams and childhood memories, integrating the insights thereby yielded into my adult waking life as a way to become a happy, well adjusted person.

No, I just want cut out my dreams and much of my childhood with a scalpel and throw them away.

George Orwell once wrote that writers are all deeply selfish and self-absorbed people, driven to write by demons they can't hope to comprehend, let alone deal with.

If so, I really should be a writer.


  1. You know, there is always the operational approach in all these, which for me sums up to the fact that it doesn't really make a difference if those events happened or not in 'real' life (let me try 'awake state' better). As long as you 've experienced them, they might come handy to you. Not to become a 'better' person or something - I never knew what that meant actually. And I don't believe in omens or psychic stuff either. I just think that everybody builds an internal, private cosmology with this subconscious stuff to walk themselves through life and make sense of it. Some people find in it or make up of it some hidden meaning, while others transform these images/ concepts/ ideas into art (or art commerce). Others just get anxious about them and this moves them to change their course in life, to change their mindset. The only sure thing is that these 'experiences' and your doubt and thoughts about them alter your perception of your mind.
    As for memories and all that, I personally never managed to throw away any, not in the long run anyway. I don't think it's really an option, when it happens the doctors call it amnesia. Some times it's hard and sometimes it's freaky, yet I get the feeling that what I don't remember cause it feels bad when I do, it will come back in some way and bite me in the ass. Ne obliviscaris, and all that.

    I don't like to conceptualize this. And I hope I'm not getting into personal territory. It's just that I've also been thinking about this stuff a lot lately (I've had similar dreams all my life)and it was strange to read your post at this time. Hope I helped. You have a nice and interesting blog, keep it going.

  2. Dream or not, it's good fodder for fiction. So write it! ;)