Climb Out Of Your Nightmares
The pep talk you probably didn't need but got anyway.
As a child, throughout my teenage years, up to the wise age of 28, I regularly had the same nightmare. It wasn’t always the same setting, mind, nor was it always about the same people. Just as my circle of friends changed, the people appearing in the dream did as well. But the theme was always the same: Something horrible was happening and I needed to get up a staircase or escalator to either rescue someone else or save myself. Getting up to the next floor was absolutely vital. Yet, by the hundredth time I had the dream, I already knew what would happen once I set foot on the steps and started to run up.
Half way up, the staircase would vanish, not crumble, not fall down, not break, nothing quite so spectacular. It would just, from one moment to the next, not be there any more and I’d fall into the void. That’s when I tended to wake up. That’s also when I tended to stop breathing. So it’s good I woke up because then I could realize I wasn’t falling after all and should start using my lungs again.
I always thought this nightmare would stay with me. If you ask a dream-interpreter they’ll tell you something about fear of failure, fear of losing control. Yes, that’s me. That’s always been me, always will be me. So the nightmares would stay a part of me as well – I believed.
Then I learned to climb. I started to go rock climbing regularly. I am totally fine with heights, but I am shit afraid of falling. Up to today the worst moment is, when I feel my hand or foot slipping and I know I’ll be dropping off the wall. I have an excellent climbing partner whom I trust with my life and I never fall far. But I still hate falling with a vengeance.
But the next time I had that nightmare, I noticed something odd. My dream-self realized there was that staircase to the first floor. But there was also a construction of sorts on the wall. Something you could theoretically use to climb. Nobody in their right mind would climb though, if there was a staircase. but dream-me also knew that staircase wasn’t safe, that the same thing would happen once again: half way up I’d drop into the deep. So I chose to climb the wall.
And I got to the top. For once, I managed to get where I wanted to be in that damn nightmare. And I didn’t hold my breath. I didn’t wake up until much later. I didn’t fall.
By now, the nightmares have become much less frequent. I guess they don’t find it as funny to torture me any more now that I found a way to cheat their system.
But what did I want to convey with this story, you ask? Where is this going? Well, if you go by the idea that falling is the fear of failure. It’s always the fear of failure on a certain path. By learning to climb, I began to see new paths to the first floor in my dream and I believe you can start to do this in your life as well. When you face a challenge, it’s important to have not only a plan A, that might fail or not, but also a plan B, C, D! Make backup plans and one of them will eventually work, just because stochastic is a thing! You can do this! You just have to try it in enough different ways!
This article was originally published on my old blog on my fantasy/sci-fi website.