The Beauty of Being Half Awake
Appreciating an abstract perception of life.
The Beauty of Being Half Awake
In between consciousness and dreamland,
appreciating an abstract perception.
Every Summer, for as long as I can now remember, my wife and I hit the road to head up the coast to the Northeast. Half awake and filled with excitement for a long week of relaxation, at 4am the alarm goes off. Time to go. In our younger years, we would quickly wake as our feet hit the ground and the road was our bliss for those eight hours. As we slowly began to "mature" (a more polite word for aging) those early mornings became a little harder to take. Ever still resilient, we paid it no mind.
Our first year with baby, well, just suffice to say we were delirious. As more years amassed, the tiredness evolved to a simple deep seated fatigue that exists in the background. Something that's there, but has unpacked its bags and made itself at home. This year, in those early morning hours, something magical seemed to take place that I haven't been able to put my finger on. Seemingly mystical, my perception changed. In my slippers, coffee in hand, outside my front door, I no longer recognized the world around me. It felt different, surreal, and in an instant my wildest imagination stood up for its Oscar moment. What I experienced took my breath away.
It's mission control, "Inaudible, Houston, out. Next check, 2045!"
Scary to Subtle to Serene in the Early Hours
My first pass of coffee barely touched my central nervous system. I found myself in a state between dreamland and consciousness. Adrift in my own never-ending story, and it was getting ridiculous. The bunny rabbit wasn't a bunny rabbit at all. My car wasn't a rocketship. The plants were not coming to life (any more than they already were), the house wasn't a time machine, and the moon, well, I could at least confirm that was real. I just didn't know where I was in all of this.
To my left was an insterstellar highway where I bid adieu to the Apollo 13 crew and wished them well as my own ship banked right torwards a destination unknown. Across my radio it's mission control, "Inaudible, Houston, out. Next check, 2045!" Earth below, our magical marble in all her glory coming to life. I could see the sun cresting over the eastern Atlantic as I waved to my hometown from above. Aww geez, I forgot to cover the grill and take the garbage cans in. Wait, if my cars are still down there, what am I in? It all goes dark.
Suddenly I'm back on earth, staring at a bunny rabbit eating my plants in the yard. As it locked eyes with me, we embarked on a two minute stare down. I look down at my slipper, now spurred cowboy boots on dry dirt. Wait, I'm in the wild west? Tombstone! Cut. Take two. Now a detective, finally on the verge of cracking the three months long spree of the nocturnal begonia dovourer. Ah ha, I've got you now. As it emerges from the shadows, it's my Boston Terrier, Belle, excited and eager as always. Wait, where's the culprit!
I Found Myself in a Hypnagogic State
Science has explained this as the hypnagogic state, a period where bits and pieces of consciousness try to organize themselves into wakefullness. It is, by definition, a period of altered reality. It can be downright terrifying if you take a long time to wake up; but it could also be something else, whimsical. Alone and seemingly able to time travel, I was amused.
The hypnagogic state differs from normal dreaming in that we appear to be just cognitive enough to experience the tape rolling versus just remembering it later. Better yet, we are the director of the film, the star, and the audience. As the director we have the scene. It's ours to move forward as our imagination sees fit. The actor within us delivers the dialog, while the audience makes sense of the performance. A genuine subconscious/conscious theatre at play.
The Excitement of a Creative Mind
The shift outside my front door was, as it turns out, normal. I had shot the gap between consciousness and dreamland, and experienced a higher sense of imagination. Some theories point to the brain essentially sifting through stacks of boxes. As if going through old paperwork or files, having a quick look, and piecing together a narrative. My theory is one of a higher being within us, an energy that is always in process whether we realize it or not. Nothing whacky. Simply a realization that our minds are always at work, even at rest, and it is within these moments that involuntarily, we are creative.
There's an excitement in this thought- that creativity is always at work. Even as our minds scramble to make sense of more noise than ever, there is still room to be creative in even the most chaotic periods of life. From that brief adventure in limbo, how many ideas could I expect? Would even one, just one, resolve to make the experience valid? Ever the thinker, I pondered, and then it was over.
My eyes gently focused.
My wife sleeping beside me.
My son in his room.
My dog at my feet.
The house was quiet.
The sky at the cusp of aquamarine on black.
I looked at the clock, it was 3:59am.
I forgot to set an alarm, but,
I was now, finally, awake.
Hi, I'm Onur Aybar, Founder & Creative Director at AYBAR. I hope you enjoyed this little bit of writing. If you've experienced a hypnagogic state, let me know how you felt about it. DM me on Twitter or drop me a line here.