The dream started with birds. Hundreds of thousands of starlings flying in a huge swarm. A black blanket flowing through the sky above me like some winged Rorschach test.
A hell of a good start to a dream and I was almost disappointed when my attention switched to some clandestine interactions I was having with what appeared to secret agents or spies of some type. It should be noted that I felt the same disappointment when I learned Starling’s Law has nothing to do with birds and instead has to do with the human heart, which sounds promising enough but instead states that the stroke volume of the left ventricle will increase as the left ventricular volume increases due to the myocyte stretch causing a more forceful systolic contraction.
In the dream I was investigating something or other and there was a palpable sense of danger. Whatever it was I was trying to get to the bottom of, forces seemed to be working against me. Typically I enjoy these types of dreams as I always have a knack of triumphing over whatever obstacles are presented, but in this case I could already see that in the end it was going to be revealed that I was behind the whole thing.
I’m not sure. To be honest I’d lost focus and the birds kept making sudden appearances, as if they were trying to keep me interested. I’ve endured way too many movies where the characters have given away the ending to be roped into a dream that was so transparent. I knew two minutes in that I was going to be the bad guy. I could see myself coming from a mile away. Shaggy and Thelma might as well have been standing there.
But the birds… locust may claim to swarm but they don’t know the first things about it. Starlings make you realize that the word swarm can be a noun and a verb at the same time. It has a little shimmy in it. Sometimes a lot of shimmy.
Meanwhile back in my dream I was looking for clues and feeling a sense of dread and all the other things you typically see in a B movie.
Having a B dream is the worst.
So I realized that I could either ride it out or politely clear my throat and let my subconscious know that I’d like to pivot and perhaps explore the birds a little more. You might think it’s an easy decision but in the depths of night you must maintain a healthy respect for the repercussions of a subconscious that feels slighted. I’m reminded of the mean-spirited Genie who gives you the three tons of gold bars as requested and has them appear ten feet over your head.
Many of you would no doubt applaud if my subconscious pivoted to a dream exploring the connection between birds in flight and the relationship between stroke volume and end diastolic volume. “A taste of his own medicine” you might think to yourself.
I hope you’re happy because that’s exactly what happened.
And it was beautiful. Released from the constraints that a plot requires, the birds became blood and aerodynamic blood cells became birds and the sky was my body. My heart was pumping and swirling. I grew lightheaded and had a swarm of emotions. Shaggy to my right and Thelma, clad in her iconic short red skirt, to my left. Somehow I knew she wasn’t wearing panties.
It was taking place between my ears after all.
And then all the nefarious characters in my dream made their way out to the field one by one and they all began to dance like a swarm of those inflatable Air Dancers you see outside car washes and farmer’s markets. As they danced their masks began to fall off, Scooby-style. I recognized Descartes by his “KNOWING IS SEEING” t-shirt, Locke sporting a “THE MIND IS A CONTAINER” and Kant in a tie dyed “MORALITY IS A STRICT FATHER.”
Thelma, caught up in the moment, was twirling in such a way that confirmed my hypothesis regarding her lack of undergarments. I couldn’t help but drink in the sight until I noticed someone noticing my noticing. “Don’t worry about it Lance” said George Lakoff, “Our conceptual system is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.” He gave me a quick wink.
“Thanks George” I replied.
“No worries. Really… no worries. Worries can’t compete with a murmuration. Not in here. Have a nice Thinksgiving.”
The starlings continued their mesmerizing aerial hijinkies until I woke up and did.