Sunday, November 06, 2016

When Your Mind Plays Tricks on You, or Hallucinations

November6 6, 2016

One thing I learned in 75 years: ignore nightmares or hallucinations. I distinctly remember a nightmare when I was about five. I cowered in bed next to my mom. Every time I peeked another figure leered at me—George Washington, Donald Duck, and the like. But I kept peeking. Last night I didn’t look.

Having lost two nights’ sleep, I decided the best way to handle nightmares was to ignore them. So when my secret friends gathered in the yard, I took one long look—and went to the bathroom. The art du jour last night was sort of an impressionistic painting of a 19th-century artist studio, perhaps in Manhattan. People mingle and visit and art lines the walls along with gold-framed mirrors. The colors are muted—blue and a sort of taupe, lots of beige and off-white. It reminds me of a Degas or the lines from the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo. It is an inviting scene, and I could linger. I don/t though--I will have a couple more chances during the night, but I ignore them too.

And when I wake in a purple and lavender bedroom, I sigh and close my eyes, knowing it will return to its lovely soft yellow. The result is that I wakened this morning refreshed and well aware of where I was, whereas the two previous mornings I was disoriented, sure that I’d been moved out of my cottage even though I saw it all around me.

A puzzlement: when I first saw the crowd in the artist’s studio, Sophie went crazy, barking to go out (I didn’t fall for it). It was the bark she uses to tell me she has to investigate our safety outside. Do you suppose she “sees” my hallucination?

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