Someone sent me a puzzle that went like this:
Question: You are driving in a car at a constant speed. On your left side is a 'drop off' (The ground is 18-20 inches below the level you are traveling on), and on your right side is a fire engine traveling at the same speed as you. In front of you is a galloping horse which is the same size as your car and you cannot overtake it. Behind you is another galloping horse. Both horses are also traveling at the same speed as you. What must you do to safely get out of this highly dangerous situation?
Answer: Get your drunk ass off the merry-go-round!!!
Being drunk and disoriented is certainly a fair characterization of how most people experience their dreams. And this joke points out how a situation that seems very confusing on the surface can have a simple explanation. But if we are not alone in our dreams and merely experiencing a shared world in a drunken state, why don't "sober" beings intervene more often to educate us?
Well...if you think it's only in dreams where it's hard to get information, here's an idea: try going to the street outside of a grocery store and interviewing people. Feign ignorance of the laws of gravity and get them to explain why things fall. Ask passers-by with shopping carts how they are managing to drive those cars from the outside, without a steering wheel. Crawl around on all fours and ask why everyone is so much taller than you. You won't get good answers!
On Earth, there's not a lot of compassion for the drunk, disoriented, and insane. Those behaving in this fashion are usually dumped into institutions, where they talk to other crazy people who provide further confusion. Should we expect different treatment as we stagger about the astral realm? If we want compassion, we must offer it to those who need it from us: "whatever you did unto one of the least, you did unto me"
But I'll get off my soapbox, and back to the metaphor of the merry-go-round:
I think that a lot of dream enthusiasts--in lieu of having the knowledge to explain the mechanisms behind a disorienting dream--will shift the focus away from the questions they can't answer. They steer toward psychological questions about the individual. Fire engines and horses may appear in a dream, but certainly there must have been other things around--so shouldn't you think about why you noticed them?
This has some value, but I'm not satisfied with deferring the study of mechanism. If you're not having fun on a merry-go-round, you need to know how to call to the operator to stop the ride so you can get off. I've devoted my dream efforts almost entirely to trying to map the physics of dreamworlds, asking every question I can, and remembering the answers (being dubbed--perhaps sarcastically--the Interview Hero
I'm confident that the foundations of science can be applied in dreams just as in waking life, and we just have to keep at it.
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