I learned two new words today. Hypnopompic and the related term hypnagogic.
I have frequently experienced these phenomena and, frankly, in my younger days they scared me. Some of the times I experienced this, it seemed to suggest I might have some form of prescience because in a vivid dream I had apparently “predicted” an event that later did in fact happen. I wondered if I was psychic. I was pretty sure there would be a completely rational explanation. I posited to myself that perhaps my brain, subconsciously aware of data I had not consciously considered, had worked out a likely scenario which was later confirmed, as “predicted”.
I believe I got that right. It still makes sense to me. More sense than having psychic abilities, anyway.
Many times I have awoken thinking “Wow. How did my brain come up with all that? Where did it come from? Then within a few minutes I have totally forgotten everything except how impressed I was with myself for having dreamt it. Occasionally I have had such a frightening dream that I have never forgotten it.
Once I dreamed I was holding my infant child’s cold, grey corpse and weeping. I awoke still weeping and could not shake the dread that I felt. At that time June had taken our baby girl back to Solomon Islands to present her to the family. I had stayed in NZ. I couldn’t afford a ticket for myself as well, nor spare the time off work.
When I awoke, the dream had been so real I was panic stricken. In those days there was no way I could contact the family in the village to assure myself all was well.
I was working in the area of home that day so I called in to check the mail at lunch time. There was a letter from June. It was postmarked a week ago. Sumana was seriously ill in hospital in Muda. It was a Wednesday, which just happened to be the one day of the week there was an Air Pacific flight to Honiara via Nadi in Fiji.
I immediately called the bank and arranged for them to cover payment for a flight to Honiara, and contacted a cousin in Honiara to arrange a flight for me to Muda as I could not arrange it myself or through a travel agent. I then called work, told them I was taking leave, packed a bag and headed for the airport. That night I slept in a hotel in Nadi and by ten the next morning I was in Honiara. My relative’s wife met me at arrivals with a ticket for the next flight to Western Province. An hour or so later I was in Muda, where I borrowed a bicycle and pedalled from the airport terminal to the hospital. There I learned that Suma had been discharged. I pedalled back to return the bike, then headed down to the wharf by Agnes Lodge resthouse. As I arrived I called out to a passing canoe in my grammatically poor Roviana to ask if they were going anywhere near Nusa Hope village. “Of course we are” answered my sister in law, whom I had not recognised.
So it was that barely 24 hours after reading June’s letter, I arrived in Nusa Hope village, where Sae, my father-in-law said “I told them all you would arrive today. No one believed me”. He added ” You are looking fat” and then, knowing why I was there, and to my great relief, “Leana hola sa komburu.” The baby is fine.
It turned out that Suma had suffered what was probably heat prostration and was taken to hospital where she was tested for, and diagnosed as having, malaria. Despite being already on prophylaxis she was treated with a massive dose of chloroquine, which made her sicker. Hence the letter.
She was well again by the time I arrived. Apparently someone had mixed slides in the lab. Another child had not been diagnosed when he should have been.
Shortly after I arrived in Halls Creek, I had another weird hypnogogic experience that I still remember distinctly. I was, I was quite sure, completely awake, staring through the darkness at the green glowing digits on the air conditioner, telling me it was running at 18 degrees. I heard three sharp knocks on my bedroom door and turned to see an elderly aboriginal gentleman standing in the doorway, smiling at me. He was very old, dressed in shorts, with white hair and beard, and a long stick or spear. He looked at me with a penetrating gaze and a friendly smile. I felt no unease, though I was surprised, because I was sure I had locked the doors before coming upstairs to bed.
“Hello”, I said. “How did you get in?” Then, for some strange reason, “Would you like a cup of tea?”
I got up, turned on the light in the hall, and went downstairs to put the kettle on. Then I went to check the doors, which were just as I thought, locked. I turned to ask again how my visitor had gained entrance. Of course he wasn’t there. Standing in the kitchen I realised I could not possibly have seen him as clearly as I believed, because the room had been dark with only the green glow of the LED digits of the aircon to illuminate it. And where had he gone when I arose and turned on the light?
Afterwards, realising I had imagined it, I wondered whether I had actually got up and gone downstairs, or had I imagined that too?
These two events are examples of a few that are different from most I have experienced because I have never forgotten them, and can still picture in my mind what I dreamed, or thought I saw at the time. Most are forgotten within minutes of waking.
The mind is an odd thing.
I can well believe it when someone says “It came to me in a dream”.