At first, I was going to make this into a dream poem but I wanted to be more explicit in the description of this particular dream.
What’s a Choice?
I dreamt a dream I shouldn’t remember. A clever dream, really. A dream more easily forgotten than the next, yet remembered. If only slightly.
In another world, another reality, a choice is everything and nothing. Making one decision erases all evidence of the other option(s). It never existed in the first place. The choice itself never existed in the first place. Imagine choosing between family and friends and having the other completely disappear from existence. Or your god choosing whether to place you in a heaven or a hell, but because you now lack a point of reference for the other, you could never be sure whether you’re well off.
On the surface, it doesn’t sound completely horrible. There’s security in your decisions. Reassurance. Freedom in ignorance. Liberating, really. Yet you’re only made aware of how this universe works at the crossroads of those alternatives. Choosing one reality not only wipes away the possibility of the other but the crossroads itself. Beautifully horrifying is what it was.
The real beauty of this dream is that I only remember two choices that I made, and the first was incredibly vague and cruel. There were two choices. But upon learning that choosing one would eradicate the other, I found myself at an impasse. I couldn’t decide, so I stayed at the crossroads enjoying both equally. Then another path appeared. Now I know what you might be thinking. You may imagine that on this path, I might be afforded the chance to indulge in both of my choices. However, the briefest, most fleeting idea of preferring one over the other was quickly confused with solidifying my choice. Thus, it was made. Damage done.
But something new happened. I hadn’t forgotten the crossroads. In fact, I was still there. The previous paths faded away, replaced with two new ones. The universe had given me a new choice. To keep dreaming or to wake up with no memory of my previous choices.
Now I realize the Matrix vibe here (Fun Fact: I’ve never seen the Matrix). But it sort of blew me away how my subconscious was so in control of everything. When I woke up, I only knew of the universe by that final choice and a vague recollection of the one prior, which I very well could have made up after thinking about it long enough.
I was thinking about writing it into a short story or a novella but the only way I could think to write it sounds intimidating. And rightfully so. I’d imagine it would resemble B. S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates in structure. If you’re not familiar, it’s a 27-section book, each chapter separately bound. The first and last chapters are specified, but the other 25 can be read in any order and the story will always make sense. A book in a box.
After I finish the novel, I might play around with this concept. It sounds pretty cool, but it also sounds really tricky to get on the paper. I guess we’ll see!