Thursday, July 31, 2008


Remember the wind-up toys you used to get as a kid? They'd be lifeless and you'd give the key a turn and it'd go gangbusters for awhile and gradually slow down until it ground to a halt. You'd wind it up and the process would start all over again.

I often feel like a wind-up toy when it comes to my energy levels. I'm fine for a certain stretch of time (usually about 5 or so hours) then I start to drag and then crash. When the crash comes, I will eventually get a second wind. Perhaps there's some giant cosmic hand in another reality putting a key in me and winding me back up again. I wish it would have installed a longer lasting spring so I'd get through more hours before I run down. At the very least, it could pay attention and re-wind more often.

Now that I'm at home all the time, I can go lie down for a bit when the crash comes. It's an unadulterated luxury being able to lie on your own bed when you're tired in the middle of the afternoon. While I lie there with my eyes closed, I try not to think about anything. In fact, I'd be perfectly happy at these times to just fall asleep and take a nap. Most of the time, I can't fall asleep and my mind drifts a bit in a place between being fully awake and asleep.

Back during my few years in Japan, I used to have a strange sense of connecting to home during these "lie downs". It wasn't that feeling people sometimes have in sleep where you wake up and are surprised to be in your current locale. It was more of a feeling of an energy filament tethering me to the energies of my family and familiar things back home. Sometimes it felt as if I could "sense" the other side of the planet where I grew up as I lay there, a tiny spec on the other side. As some time went by, the feeling of this connection disappeared.

Starting about 10 or so years ago, I started to have a very different experience when I closed my eyes during one of these resting sessions. It started after I tried some meditation exercises (and failed at them) and has been recurring ever since. During one of my meditations, I saw faces vividly. The faces were of people I had never seen before. I also once saw an exceptionally clear stone totem figure which resembled the shape (though not the size and design) of an Olmec head. I remembered well enough at the time to draw a picture of it, though I believe I threw it away later on for unknown reasons. Though I haven't done these exercises for a very long time nor have I actively meditated, I've found that I often see a variety of faces when I'm lying in bed with my mind set adrift.

These faces have different ages, expressions, ethnicities, and looks. They aren't animated in any way and are similar to snapshots, though they don't feel as lifeless as a photo. I don't know where they come from, though I have my theories. When I see them, I don't try to think too hard about them as I've found attempting to "seize" the image and burn it into memory tends to make it slip away. If you've ever seen a slide-show which is supposed to show a subliminal message by slipping in an extremely brief glimpse of something, it's a bit like that. Often, if I'm not trying too hard to think about or remember the faces I see, there will be a succession of several of them in a session. Generally, by the third one, I'm focusing too much on what I'm seeing and they stop.

I've seen a lot of faces and pictures in my life and it's possible that the review that happens when I'm adrift between consciousness and unconsciousness could just as easily be explained as my mind tiptoeing through the file cabinets of random memories to occupy itself. I wouldn't say that's impossible though I would see it as a curious coincidence that this only happens in this particular situation and that the faces don't appear in any sort of context or with any background.

The faces always appear as if being illuminated slowly from out of darkness and then fading back into it. I'd think that sensory memories would hold truer to their original context than that as most sensory memories are interconnected in a cluster of sensory information. This is why a distinctive smell makes you remember a place or feeling associated with it rather than it just being a familiar smell in many cases. It makes no sense that images would be stripped of their backgrounds in such a fashion if it is mere memory of pictures I saw in books or magazines as a child which are flashing back to me.

I don't know for sure what it is, but it neither troubles nor comforts me that it happens. I never think about it before I lie down for a rest. In fact, I often forget that it sometimes happens until it has actually occurred. I'm guessing that even going so far as to write about it may make the notion close enough to the front of my mind that it will likely stop happening for quite some time, but, I guess it's too late to worry about that now. ;-)

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