In 2019, Billie Eilish released her record-breaking record (lol) named 'When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?'. It was a brilliant medley of simple yet nuanced tracks, defined by her voice that is way too mature for her age. Needless to say, that album had a profound impact on me. While the tracks themselves were something out of the ordinary, the title stuck by me.
So, where DO we go when we fall asleep?
Straight answer - nowhere, unless sleep-walking is a normal thing for you, and you define conversational depth by the flights of stairs that you tumble down while doing the sleep-walk! 😅
Seriously, it is an interesting question, one with limitless responses. You could say that you enter a world of dreams, good and bad when you fall asleep. But, do you always dream? Over thirty years of experience in sleeping tells me that I don't always dream, or more importantly, I don't REMEMBER every time I dream. But for the sake of this post, let us even assume that we consistently dream almost every night. But aren't those dreams a natural extension of our subconscious?
It's common to have a nightmare right after watching a horror movie or dream about your loved ones when you've separated for a while. These seem to be direct manifestations of our deepest thoughts or desires. But what if there is more to the way we interpret or rather MISINTERPRET them. Could the Matrix have gotten it correct all along?
Maybe the dreams that we remember are actual instances of our real lives that we happen to recollect in our current 'dream' state. Maybe, it is our mind in the real world trying to warn us of upcoming scenarios while we stay busy in the Matrix. Now, THAT completely inverts the whole equation! Because, if that premise is valid, we are free to go anywhere we please, once we fall asleep!
And I WISH that was true for a moment.
The past couple of years have taxed us in many ways, but the gravest inconvenience has been our inability to escape our homes, our lives, and our minds. What if dreams could give us the ability to wander freely and live the life that we've foregone in these past years? How would that work?
Clearly, our subconscious mind would guide these dream travels, so it's not like you can book a ticket to Paris and fall asleep. Would there be an implicit connection that our minds would make to specific destinations based on our mind-space on that day?
For instance, on days when you feel exceptionally cheerful, you'd probably end up in Hawaii or the Bahamas. Make that a more limited sense of happiness, and you'd probably find yourself in the Andamans or the Maldives! 😄
By extending the same logic for other emotions, I'd probably end up confused in the US, alienated and gloomy in the UK, scared in Russia and absolutely suicidal in Hong Kong. But what's more important to me is the micro-geography of this phenomenon. Let me explain.
Assuming that I may not have a passport in the dream world, I could only travel to the places within India. What would my itinerary look like then? Okay, hands-down am heading to Gurgaon and Chennai to live out my nightmares, the former being social and the latter being environmental. Actually, hold on, Gurgaon can take both spaces!
My happy place would probably be Goa or the Himalayas, and, intriguingly, I am pleasantly surprised that my mind would jump to such extremes in search of a happy place. I'd probably storm off to Pune in anger because I do tend to throw kiddie tantrums. Mumbai would definitely be my party destination, while Bangalore would signal a resting mind. But the one question that bugs me the most is this - what would I pick as the safe destination in moments of intense turmoil and uncertainty. Would that be Mumbai, where I was born and brought up, or Pune, where my mum and dad reside currently, or Bangalore, where I live with my wife?
The answer does not present itself to me immediately, and hence I close my eyes and think of the safest place I could ever be. It starts with a black canvas, but the image clears up gradually and steadily. I see myself sitting on a small hill that overlooks a modest coastline. I've got a fire running in the background, with some barbecue, and I have a glass of scotch in my hand. I can hear voices and laughter in the background, and hence I turn around to see whether I can spot some familiar faces.
I see seven of them and no more. I snap out of that daydream and reflect upon a similar post that I had written at the very start of this blogging journey - the inner circle of life.
I'd stated a wide belief in that post regarding the maximum number of people who go on to define our inner circle through life and the fact that the number rarely exceeds seven. Read the post to understand why.
But returning to the present and interpreting my 'safe' dream destination, could it be that I've found the seven who are to stay by my side forever? Maybe, for now. But it does not matter what their faces look like because faces change, as do the people who sport them. What remains constant is our connections with them in the context of our day-to-day lives. That defines our safe space.
But all this is theoretical and a convoluted response to a big 'IF'. However, that does not mean that this safe space cannot exist in our minds. In fact, I'm 99% sure that I've visited this place at least a few times in the past two years alone. But it is buried deep within our subconscious, and it struggles to break out through all the worldly things that we think and talk about every day.
So, I ask this - why not influence our subconscious to think about our safe space as a response to the titular question? After all, no matter the amount of fun I'd have in Goa or Himachal or Andaman, that hill by the sea is home. And, home is where I'd want to go at the end of every single day.