Manchmal kommt es mir vor, als ob das, was man von den Leuten Neues weiß, zugleich auch schon nicht mehr gilt.
I have been plagued by headaches for as long as I can remember. Not to be melodramatic about it, for the number of days I have a headache compared to the number of days I don’t might not seem worthy of the verbal equivalent to something that wiped out populations, but when you consider the number of people who didn’t get the Plague…
At different points in my life I have visualized my headaches and their cause according to the form of my imagination at that time. When I was about eight years old, during a family vacation in Georgian Appalachia, I learned about how ticks come out of nowhere to burrow themselves into your scalp and remain effectively hidden, flat to the surface of your head.
It was during this period that I developed the imaginary theory of a thin, slightly curved & rounded insect of bone, about a silver dollar in diameter, under the skin on either side of my forehead, just above, and ever-so slightly outside the ridge of my brow, what on my cranium would be the top-front corners. Feel those corresponding spots yourself; you may find that the infiltrator fits there seamlessly.
The problem was, the bone-bug would sometimes extend its short little tick-legs and give me headaches, so I would try to visualize removing it with a pair of tweezers – its stretchy, sinuously gooey appendages clinging like a barnacle – or just having the damn thing sit back down again, without success; the pain always lasted beyond what my imagination had desired.
Over the years, my parents took me to different doctors to try and discover what was causing these bouts of pain. One posited a dietary theory – and warned us about the over-absorption of the nitrate-laden.
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It didn’t lead to as extreme a reaction as Homer’s to his sense of abandonment (or loss of entitlement when not default decadence of cultural dominance) but it changed the flavor of the dog in my head and began to process the way I thought about food – before and after but especially during my headaches (’til this day I sometimes feel I can feel toxic nutrition on a cellular level, as in, directly).
Eventually I got sent for an EEG. The tech sat me in a room that seemed far too vast and empty for any purpose. The hookup entailed having my hair greased in excess and little electrodes being planted all over my scalp.
I conjured no new visual image subsequent to that experience though, years later, a pair of blinks-worth of the X-Files opening credits resonated something somehow. The closeup of the nucleus of the plasma globe crossfading into the screaming human face could tell the tale of one segment of the search for the cause of my pain.
But it wasn’t until very recently that I became convinced that I could feel the fire along the nerves that lead directly outward from the brain through the skull. Prior to my awareness of this labyrinth of cranial nerves, I had imagined the swollen capillaries in my head and would try to re-oxygenate them, taking & holding long, deep hits of air through the nose as I visualized the slowing of blood-flow to my temples and forehead.
That imagery was courtesy of my exposure to the concept of biofeedback and played an even more prominent role when I still drank alcohol, which dehydrates the brain and leads to hangovers, but in me, consecutive headaches that just seemed like an extra long one that might never go away. The drinking phase led to a lazier visual exercise that amounted to nothing more than fantasizing about my brain being dipped into a tub of ice-water, absorbing the liquid and swelling like a sponge.
This is ironic because a later phase involved the expansion of my skull being the key to the relief from the pain of a swollen brain, replete with small pools of blood in grooves and pockets on the surface that needed to be gently suctioned away with one of those tools dentists use.
Anyway, it’s not just the dark fantasies that evolve with the bits of information I acquire, but my sense of the pain, even its quality and locus; so the sharp strand I’ve come to feel – the lightning-like jagged vector from deep inside my brain to the same-as-ever area on one or the other side of my forehead – borrows liberally from the notions of the past: the swollen matter stained with blood; the de-oxygenated tissue in need of a dry drink; only the bone-bug is long gone to distant dystopia.
Back to the X-Files: Geeks for the main story arc can tell you that UFO sightings did not originate in the mid-to-late twentieth century – that would be the flying disc of apparent alien origin. Prior to the knowledge of planetary science, they were taken for angels or gods or demons or dragons.
What they thought they knew molded the parameter of their imagination. I don’t actually know shit about my digestive-, central nervous-, or cardiovascular systems. But the stuff I read and hear leads to more or less sophisticated self-diagnoses and the reciprocal search for cures.
For the purposes of this tale, I’ll refer to my moving self as “me”, “myself” or “I”. I cannot remember if there were two parts of my being or not (mind-body), and as the previous paragraphs imply, I can’t rely on my perception to relate this experience as accurate as I would like – let alone the memory of that perception and the occurrence that fed it over twenty years ago:
I lie on my back in bed in the middle of the night. I lie for a while before I float up through the top of the room and into the dark sky above the town in which I reside.
I fly. I know not how fast, I know not how high. Perhaps as high as the treetops, perhaps as high as the sky. Maybe as fast as a bird or, more rapidly, a jet, maybe as fast as thought will allow. But I see the stars in the sky and the lights below. I go.
I keep going.
Eventually I arrive at my most recent previous place of employment, a grocery store where I worked about five years prior. I descend downward until I reach the entrance, a double set of automatic doors. I go through the doors.
Immediately to my right, the shopping carts are assembled. The place is pretty empty, but I notice that the person getting a cart at that moment is a friend from high school.
I call out to him and approach: “You’ll never believe what I’m doing. I actually live in Oklahoma right now and was lying in bed when I just kind of took off and floated through the sky until I got here and decided to take a look at where I used to work, and here you are so I am talking to you!”
His perfectly succinct reply: “Wikkit!”
That’s it. Or that’s all I remember or relatively all there was to it. Nevertheless, subsequent experience requires footnotes and parenthetical remarks therein if I’m to shape how it all fits in the here & now::
Originally, what I thought about that experience a day, a week, a month, up until several years later, and the questions that arose:
– I had had a dream in which I astral projected. Yet it seemed so much more real than other dreams, in-that the dream itself began from where I actually lay at the time, and it was a definite departure from all other dreams in which I had flown, the method being nowhere similar.
– the narrative, too, was remarkably straight forward; it had a simple beginning, middle, and end, with no morphing of characters or locations.
– and I cannot recall having dreamed of astral projection since.
– is the dream of an astral projection an astral projection? Is a projection, no matter the kind, just another projection and therefore, also, the other way around?
– did Kroger’s automatic doors open for me; did I follow my friend close behind through them; or did I pass through the glass?
– if the doors did open as I stood before them, could that be an indication that I departed my apartment through a window or door, or might it represent a transition: at the beginning a ghost, at the end in the flesh? Or might it be that my astral body encountered another someone shopping for a transition or going through one of his own?
Then, many years later, what I began to think upon reinterpretation and the theories I developed once I’d learned about lucid dreaming and things I’ve discovered about it since:
– as I noticed that my dreaming self was aligned with my waking self from just moments before, I took control of the narrative.
– as a lucid dreamer can tell you, everything that took place in that dream I willed to happen on a level less dependent upon my unconscious self. That’s the conscious leading the unconscious around by the nose – or shaping events of the other’s reality, at least – and not the other way around.
– or maybe it’s just a dreamy synthesis. All of these worlds are one-and-the-same signal of varying strength, all frequencies a take of the same from a different angle, and different mix of radio voices.
– why I chose that location for so brief a sojourn remains a mystery, though it could be that in lucid dreams our tools are limited to the mental files from the previous day’s activities, just as in any other dream.
– maybe I had thought about that high school job: weighing peaches in the produce section (which I’d’ve been able to see in the dream over Tommy’s right shoulder); scanning baby food at master speed (which I’d done at the checkout straight in front of me as I entered the store); or retrieving a long row of carts from the parking lot and having to make that wicked right turn immediately after coming through the doors – pushing up on the handle hard enough to lift the last cart’s wheels off the ground just before the front cart reaches the end of the checkout lane and using all my body strength, tackle dummy style, to force the back end left and the front end right – so as not to run over one of the customers. Or maybe I had just gone to an actual supermarket the day before.
Or maybe not.
It could be that I started the jaunt, real or imaginary, on a curious whim and chose the resulting imagery so that I might find just the right person, someone I knew who was schooled in psychedelia, someone with a common frame of reference – someone who’d appreciate it… wickedly.