When I was 12, I read a lot of books that kids read around that time. Mostly though, I read a lot of books that kids didn’t.
I churned through the Celestine Prophecy series and anything by Richard Bach. I read Masters of The Far East, with real-life accounts of yogis and spiritual men in India walking up walls, lifting impossibly heavy objects, and being in two places at once.
My first creative writing piece in first year of high school was about a boy’s thoughts as he escaped from a city of fire during a revolution. It got full marks, and no feedback. I don’t think the teachers really knew what to do with it.
But as I entered teenage years and sunk further and further into the social pressure most of us go through, I started ignoring the side of myself that wanted to ask big questions. As more years passed, I stuffed it down and rejected it all because no one else seemed to accept those interests as normal.
My mother, a meditation teacher and counsellor who had been on her own solo journey to India when she was younger, began appearing to be more out of touch. To me, that is. She wasn’t a lawyer, a doctor, a business owner or an accountant.
When I was 16, I had a conversation that would impact the rest of my life. I was angry and frustrated at the world for something that was probably quite minor. At the time, I’d also just finished watching a re-run of The Matrix.
When I complained, she gave me some spiritually-charged advice. I didn’t like it. It made me more upset at the world, and my place in it.
‘You know what?‘ I said angrily, ‘When I experience what it’s like to walk on walls, I’ll drop all of my beliefs and start looking into yours.‘
‘Maybe one day you will,‘ She replied.
When I was 21, I was looking for answers. After years of only accepting what I could see and taste and touch, ignoring what else could be out there, I was still lost.
Around this time, I heard about lucid dreaming – the art of waking up from your dreams, while you’re inside them.
Some people do it naturally, every now and then. I found out that you could train for it. It sounded impossible and definitely not normal, yet there were people around the world saying they were doing it.
Curious, I got involved in a community of lucid dreamers and started practicing.
At first, I learned how to enter dreams awake when the gate was most ajar: going back to sleep after falling awake in the night. Soon I moved to waking up inside dreams, most nights, almost at will.
After mastering these, I set my sights one step higher. I wanted to fall directly into a lucid dream without sleep. As one seamless waking experience. Others had done it. could I?
I tried and tried, and finally did it. One moment, I was sitting cross legged on my bed in the late evening, trying to relax the body and not think about the impossibility of what I was trying to do. The next, I looked around at a bright, light-filled apartment in a high-rise building and a city I didn’t recognise.
This couldn’t be possible, I thought. It was, quite literally, beyond my belief.
I thought about an apple, and it appeared on a black and white console table in the corner.
I thought about a friend, and they walked into a door on my right. They walked around the room, then through a sliding door to a balcony I just realised was there.
Feeling curious, I started walking, and soon found myself looking sideways at a couch on the wall.
I found myself looking sideways at a couch on the wall. I was experiencing it as real.
I woke up, and gingerly called my Mum.
‘Told you,’ she said.