When I think about the prospect of dying in my sleep, my mind has a strange way of turning the thought into a logical conundrum. For example, I have a recurring dream that I am dying – sometimes on an operating table, sometimes in my bed. Usually I am myself, but not always; once I was an old woman in my dream. But each time I feel the pain and fear of dying from within. My consciousness slips away and the last thing I am aware of is my brow. The conundrum lies in the fact that I am actually waking up. The slide into unconsciousness in my dream is at the same time a slow arousal of consciousness to my waking life.
The same process may be at work on occasions of intense self-consciousness when I feel an overwhelming sense I am here now, in this place at this time. The strangeness is like déjà vu but the experience is one of self awareness rather than having been in that situation in that place before. In such circumstances I in fact see myself as in a memory, but what I remember is what I am actually experiencing. I am remembering the present.
Last night I woke up in my car. I couldn’t understand how I got there because I was sure I had gone to bed the night before in my own room. But I couldn’t remember going to bed. I couldn’t visualize it. I began to think I had blacked out the night before and that there was a hole in my recollection. When I woke up in my own bed, it was obvious why I couldn’t remember anything about going to sleep in the car. Since that was a dream I had had no past. There was no night before since my dream began when I awakened and saw the interior of the car.