As a child I slept walked on a regular basis. Waking up while standing in pitch black is confusing and terrifying. Eyes open and close without any change in perception. A fleeting dream would quickly slip behind the curtain of subconsciousness, as my veins tingled with adrenaline. I kept instinctively silent.
Half awake and confused I slowly reached my hands into the dark and made tiny steps, bumping into furniture, until my fingers found the cool smoothness of a wall. I made small steps fingertips sliding up and down until they found a light switch. With a click, a familiar room in my home would suddenly be illuminated. I could then find my way back to bed and slip into soft sheets telling no one.
More often than waking in the dark, I would wake in the morning with my feet by my pillows turned around in the bed. I would know I had been for a walk. I wondered how often I returned to bed the usual way, oblivious to the previous nights’ adventures.
Slightly disturbed family members often told me over breakfast stories of encountering me standing in the dark in a strange stupor before guiding me back to bed. I usually had no memory of it. It felt mysterious knowing the eyes can be open in a dark room while the mind experiences a vivid dream world.
I wonder about sleepwalking as a pattern beyond dreams. When is the next time in life I will awake standing in the dark? What parts of my life I am sleepwalking through right now? Do groups of people participate in a shared dream in culture? Some cultures can feel like nightmares. The global virus is awakening many sleepwalkers from decades long dreams to harsh new realities. I see the reaction of fear as people awake in darkness, reaching frantically for a light switch to illuminate their world.
The human species once awoke into a dozy constantly shifting self awareness. I wonder what kind of dream this life is. We were once babies but we don’t remember that dream. How much am I forgetting? I feel confusion and think, “I can’t remember if I don’t forget.”
I remember the kindness of family members when finding me in a disoriented lost state they wouldn’t shake me awake, but gently take me to my room. Sometimes slightly impatient and half asleep they would say, “You are sleepwalking go back to bed.”