Not the actual baby goat of my dream but a Clipart version
This morning, I was planning to write about Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s advice to women that it is “good karma” to not ask for a pay raise. While karma will take care of Nadella, I will say a thing or two about it tomorrow. A dream in REM sleep between 5 and 6 a.m. today has taken greater urgency because it has shaken up the very foundations of my notions of what is real and what is not.
Before I tell you about the dream, a bit about the brain. Enormously complex and intelligent that the human brain is, it is also remarkably susceptible to trickery and illusion. The human brain, or at any rate what I have rattling about in my skull, can occasionally get thoroughly mixed up between reality and dream. We all know that dreams have real life consequences that range from waking up in a cold sweat after an unsettling dream to a wet dream caused by something lustful. It seems the brain perceives a dream as real when it is unfolding and responds to it as it would to any situation in a normal real, wakeful condition. At least that is my sense. The erasure of the boundary between dream and reality does not happen often but it happens often enough to make one wonder whether we all live in multiple, backup layers of consciousness. I wrote about this on October 6.
Now on to my dream. It began as donkeys grazing and kicking. But that changed in a nanosecond and became a bunch of goats, including one particularly cute baby goat. In terms of my vantage point, in my dream I was looking at the goats over my feet. Then all of a sudden the lone baby goat started first sniffing my toes and then nibbling away at them. It was at that point that the brain reacted the way it would in any real situation. It felt the warm ticklish sensation in the toes. I happen to be particularly ticklish; so much so that even the idea of being tickled tickles the heck out of me. After a couple of seconds I could no more take the nibbling. That is when the brain sent a command to my left foot to kick which I did. Not just in my dream but in real life as well.
The kick, which was not meant to hurt the goat but merely scare it away, did so in my dream. But it also did something real. My foot landed on the footboard of my bed fairly hard. That woke me up. The toes pained for a while. The transition from dream to reality was so seamless that my brain could not make that distinction during those moments. It was only in retrospect that it separated the two. The donkeys and goats were unreal as was the nibbling. The kick was unreal initially but continued in real life. The footboard was real. So was the momentary pain. This is what I mean by the erasure of the boundary.
This bizarre fusion of dream and reality makes me wonder what is real and what is not. The only way to find out is when the first creditor calls this morning. I will treat that as unreal.