I don’t know what put the fantasy in my head. I suppose its origin doesn’t matter. What matters is the idea attached itself to my brain like a leech, greedily consuming my attention. I have no choice but to devote myself to its exploration.

What if, I asked myself, I were to awaken from a deeply satisfying sleep to find myself in an utterly unfamiliar situation? Let me describe this situation for you.

The place in which I find myself is quite dim, but not completely dark. I can see no source of light, yet I can see the bed on which I have been sleeping. It is a very large bed, with black sheets and a black bedspread made of thin material; considerably thicker than a sheet, but not nearly as thick as a comforter.  Two pillows, also black, rest on the bed stacked one upon the other. My head compressed the top pillow upon which it rested before I arose. I can see no walls, nor any ceiling; everywhere I look is blackness, illuminated by a dim glow that seems to emanate from nothing.

The bed seems to be in the center of a room, but as I walk first in one direction and then the next, I find no obstacles of any kind. No walls, no other furniture, nothing. I wander aimlessly, trying to find something to explain this place to me. Finally, I return to the bed, where I see a black sheet of paper, almost invisible on top of the bedspread. I pick up the paper and see it contains words imprinted in grey:

You reside in a new reality. You are utterly alone; here, there are no other humans, no animals, no plants, no life forms of any kind, nothing but you and the bed from which you have just arisen. But you have nothing to fear. In this place, you need no food, no water, nothing but sleep to sustain you. Here, you may simply be. And, if you desire, you may think.

As I consider what I’ve just read, it occurs to me that I recognize these words, but I cannot think what other words might exist. I am conscious of the English language, but have a sense that there may be other languages; yet I do not know what they might be.

And, then, I realize I do not know my own name. That seems odd for a moment, but that concern withers as I ponder the meaning of the note. I understand that I do not need a name. I need nothing but sleep and thought.

That’s the experience. I ask myself the “what if” question and, with no warning, I envision being in the situation. By now, of course, I have come to the conclusion that the fantasy in my head has become a reality. I slip back and forth between this reality and the one I’ve described with some regularity.

Each time I leave this reality and enter the one I’ve come to call “Dimness,” I notice something different there. The surface upon which I walk, for example. It, too, is black, but it’s very difficult to distinguish, visibly, between the “floor,” if that’s what it is, and my other surroundings. I can tell I’m walking on a surface only because my feet connect with something beneath me. It’s not a hard surface, but it’s not soft like carpet; it’s more like rubber that yields to my footsteps.

In this reality—the one in which I’m writing these words—I am aware of the Dimness reality. But I am unaware of this reality when I’m in Dimness. I wonder whether there will come a time when I slip into Dimness and simply don’t return? If that were to happen, where would this reality go? I don’t have the answer; all I can do is think. And sleep.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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