Visions of 09-09-09

I'm kicking myself for not having written this up earlier, when it was still fresh on my mind, but better late than never, I guess.

I'm an insomniac. I've always envied those with the effortless ability to fall asleep in moments. I can lie awake for hours upon hours before finally drifting off to sleep, exhausted, in the not-necessarily-so-wee hours of the morning. It seems there's some knack of shutting off the conscious thought process that I've yet to master, although I am able to do it with some effort. (One of my favourite methods involves passively experiencing the flood of complex, random thoughtforms from my subconscious as they flick past at the rate of two to three per second.) Being unemployed hasn't helped, either, knowing that I don't have a place I have to be in the morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It's all too easy to put off going to bed, especially in the presence of this endless source of mental stimulation called the Internet. Even now, as I write, it's 1:30 in the morning.

(On the other hand, I often do find it easier to write at night, when the world is relatively calm.)

Recently, I went through an episode of insomnia that I can only describe as epic. It was a period of probably a week and a half (I don't keep track) when I slept very little and very poorly, getting worse and worse toward the end. By the last night, the night of the 8th, I was in a highly impaired state, forgetting the most basic things, bumping into furniture, the whole bit. It was like being trapped in a sort of limbo between sleeping and waking, and I began to have fears that I would soon lose the ability to sleep entirely. There were times, lying in bed, when minutes passed like hours. It was a living nightmare. At the same time, however, it was fascinating to observe myself and the changes taking place in my body and in my consciousness.

It was the night of the 8th, or more correctly, it was the wee hours of the 9th. I was a technicality away from being certifiable as one of the living dead. I determined to take a hot shower and attempt sleep once again. The shower helped; I felt remotely more human, a little more relaxed and comfortable. When I got out, I caught myself in the mirror. Who was this ghostly, haggard man? I couldn't look away. I just stared. I was, for a moment, simply too tired to summon the will to look away and engage in the preparations for sleep.

I had read, in the other GLP topic I mentioned in the time-traveler post, the self-reported story of a person who had gone into a sort of psychosis and/or actually stepped into a whole alternate way of experiencing time and reality after staring at him/herself in the mirror while heavily sleep-deprived. I had an awareness that what I was doing was liable to induce some kind of altered state of consciousness, and I was actually curious to see what form that might take.

It didn't take long before I noticed that my face in the mirror looked oddly distorted. When I blinked, it changed. And changed again. Soon it was shifting by the second. Each distortion was distinctly different, but they were all grotesque. I reflected that the information received by my retinas was not changing, but that the changes were happening somewhere in my brain, in the way it interpreted the electrical signal to produce a subjective image. I stared at my mirror alter's forehead, at the "third eye" or pineal gland. The whole time, it seemed, the faces were getting gradually scarier, even demonic. I was nearly in their thrall. I began to feel a vertigo, a sensation of falling, of being swallowed up, heading toward something totally unprecedented and most likely too powerful for my psyche to assimilate. At the last second, by pure reflex, I broke away.

I felt like I had stepped right up to the brink of an unknown abyss. My heart was pounding with adrenaline. All that had saved me was the brain-stem-level instinct for self-preservation. Something in me knew it most definitely didn't want to go there. I stood leaning against the sink, catching my breath, trying to fathom what had just happened. And when I had calmed down, I looked into the mirror again.

This time, I had the unsettlingly vivid impression that the person in the mirror was not simply an image, but a living, breathing being unto himself. My looking-glass self. Another person. I began to notice how his facial features would react to my state of mind. If I was in fear and loathing and uncertainty, he would appear as an exact reflection of those feelings, with an unattractive face that matched them exactly. Conversely, if I was in love and acceptance and trust, he would appear as a being worthy of such: benevolent, fatherly, and wise.

I had a sort of conversation with this otherself. I can't remember the details of what we said, more's the pity, but I especially desired to speak with the beautiful versions. They seemed to carry such quiet authority and compassion and wisdom, something like a perfected, future me. However, I also spoke to the misshapen ones. I forgave their faults completely, held none of their ugliness against them, even though they seemed to expect nothing but abuse and rejection. I let them know they, too, were loved just as they were. I looked them in the eye without patronizing, without judging -- with pure, unconditional love. And they rejoiced as they realized that I did not wish to disown them or shut them out or punish them, but that they were in fact ME. We were not separate, but one.

After this, I felt truly cleansed and clear. My tiredness was sweet, no longer a numb, dead stupor, but like a soft, drowsy scent in the air. I went to bed and slept like an angel. It was my best sleep in a very, very long time. :)


    Wow, you are an extremely articulate writer! You should seriously consider writing some sort of novel or book. Very interesting experience by the way!


    Whoops, I just noticed your comment now! Must figure out how to get Blogger to notify me of new comments...

    Thanks, Eme. :) Maybe someday I will write a book, when I have something to write about! But perhaps, by then, we'll have a new mode of communication entirely...