I am constantly questioning whether my perceptions and sensations are real or simply projections of my imagination. I suffer from a rare condition where the distinction between my waking and sleeping life is not black and white; I generally describe it as two almost indistinguishable shades of grey. I have full control and memory of my dreams, but lack the understanding of knowing when I’m dreaming. Recently I have realized that when I’m dreaming, I’m much less afraid to show my individual self, compared to when I’m experiencing ‘reality’.
I believe this is because I’m not afraid to express myself the way I like when I can be sure that I won’t be able to be judged by other people. A thought-provoking question arises from my illness – can something that is imagined be “real? ” Most people believe that my illusions aren’t real, and carry no substance of real life. To these people, I ask them whether they have a faith or religion that they believe in, and if they do, they are quite adamant that they’re belief is real.
They could believe that God could be anything; God could be a handful of soil, or a substance made of moonlight and hope, and if the person who held this belief accepts this as fact, then to that person it would be as real as the sun in the sky. This is what amazes me about the power of imagination. The mind has the power to choose what it sees, not the eyes. I used to be afraid of my illness – not knowing when I’m awake or asleep and what is reality.
But lately I have changed my mind on how I view my difference, as my imagination allows me to freely be who I want to be; myself, “unto thine own self be true”, without having to panic about whether the people around me will accept who I am. I find it hard to be myself in the ‘real world’. I want to be accepted like nearly all other people. I’m terrified at even the thought of rejection. This fear has eventually led to me finding myself bowing down to the dictator. The dictator makes me dress a certain way, act a certain way, and form certain beliefs.
The dictator purposely makes me hate my individual differences, and cover them up with lies. This is a problem in the modern world – so many of us claim to live free lives, yet we fear being rejected. I remember someone once told me “if you can’t be yourself, then who are you? “. I wish I were able to be myself in the real world, as at the moment this only happens in my imagined world. I can express my individuality without restrictions when I am dreaming as I don’t fear the judgment that is tied to any decision I make when my eyes are open.
This is the main reason why I have stopped looking for a cure for my condition, and find myself to be dreaming more often than when I am living reality. I think I am going to have to eventually make a choice between which world I live in, the imagined, or the ‘real’. This is because my dreams have started to occur while I’m awake, which causes me to be my true self in the presence of other people, something I’m unable to deal with due to my poor self-esteem – thank-you dictator. I like to think real life is alike to living in the city, and the dream world similar to nature.
Dreams flow like a river, where there is no certain structure as to how things must happen. In real life, you have no choice but to conform to the chaos induced by the media and urbanisation, much like the busy streets of Melbourne. This makes me think that living my life all through my imagination seems perfect to me, I can do what I want, in an artistically free and formless way. Although these things seem to be exactly what I want, I don’t think I’m able to cast myself away from reality, even if it doesn’t want me to be myself.
At the same time I can’t stand my real life, as it is always being compared to my unlimited imagination. I hope that I can one day control my two overlapping states so that I can really have the best of both worlds. My life may be different to most others, and I like to think that’s a good thing. Sadly I can only truly appreciate this difference in my own mind and not share my true identity to those that are close to me. As my condition worsens, I can only wish that I will eventually be happier to express myself – whether I’m awake or asleep.