Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Dreams May Come

“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” –Douglas Adams (from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy").

Maybe it’s the philosopher in me (or the mad scientist) but I love stories that question reality. Heinlein’s Number of The Beast focused on four characters zipping around in a quantum-leap machine, jumping into alternate worlds that (they soon discover) were spawned by the stories of favorite authors. Great concept!

Even as a child, reading the delicious Oz books by L. Frank Baum, I wondered, casting a hopeful eye up towards the sky, if Glinda the Good would read about me in her Magic Book. How long need I wait before she, the Wonderful Wizard and Ozma, all gathered in front of the Magic Picture in the Emerald City Palace and zapped me straight to Oz?

Of course, when one grows up, one tosses out such fanciful notions. Right?


*peeks out window up at sky*

Truth is, despite the many scientific studies and the pedantic droning of the Greatest Minds, nobody truly has a clue about the nature of reality. Not really. At one point in our history, the Greatest Minds believed the earth was flat, after all.

Sometimes I speculate that we can only *know* as much as we can imagine. And perhaps for that reason, the future of technology is as dependent on fiction writers as they are on scientists. Hah! Robert Heinlein “invented” over a hundred technological breakthroughs. All of which were contained neatly within his action-packed sci-fi stories. Another perspective might be that he Predicted these inventions. Yet that too opens up an intriguing doorway. What is prediction then? Is it tapping into a future reality or a future probability? Does the future spring from the present or… from the imagination?

One of my favorite realizations is this. The only moment that truly exists is the present. The past is just a memory, no matter how much irrefutable proof we think exists. The future is just a dream.

Decades ago, a brilliant author penned a short story called, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” Phillip K. Dick’s tale featured a company who specialized in implanting memories. Don’t have the time, the stamina or the money for an actual trip to Mars? No problemo. For a fraction of the cost of an actual launch off the planet, one can be the proud owner of carefully created recollections, along with a smattering of “souvenirs” all of which will prove to you (or at least to your mind) that you actually took that Vacation of a Lifetime.

I won’t give away any of the cool twists, in case you ever get a chance to read the story, yet the implications are much greater than mere entertainment.

The only moment that exists is the one right now. Memories can be changed. The future is still but a dream.

Writers are a fortunate bunch. We get to create stories. Yet everyone shares that gift to a certain extent. Each step we take, each decision we make, we write the story of our life. In the present moment, of course. The rest is just a dream…


How about you? Any times when you wondered just how “real” reality is? As a child did you peek into mirrors trying to *see* around the corners of that other world? Or perhaps wondered what civilizations might exist beyond the stars?

For me, my absolute favorite speculations revolve around dreams. I’m constantly intrigued by the possibilities and potential of a non-physical reality we can only visit while sleeping. I could spend hours discussing the ramifications and theories. What about you? Any aspect of the unknown that continues to fascinate? Any theories you care to share?


Anonymous said...

I don't have any theories, however I do appreciate the reminder that all we have is the present. And in this moment, I am grateful to you. love, Cathy

Jodie W. said...

If you haven't seen "What the Bleep Do We Know?" you have to watch it. I think you'll really enjoy it!

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Thanks so much, Cathy, for your lovely comments. You're a treasure!

And Jodie, I did like that movie!