Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Running Down a Dream" -- a Saturday Write Fever monologue

I went to Saturday Write Fever last night for the first time in over a year and was given the prompt "Running down a dream." I wrote the following monologue in 30 minutes. It was performed by a woman named Loretta (whose last name I didn't catch).

The speaker is onstage at a TED-type conference. He/she uses a wheelchair.

"Ah, the irony of fate. Ah, how the gods are laughing." That's what everyone said, or thought, after I got in the accident that snapped my spinal cord at the fifth vertebra and left me unable to use my legs. Me, the world-famous ultramarathoner! Winner of the Ironman triathlon three years in a row! That, on my record-breaking fourth attempt, my bike and I should go careering off the side of that volcano... that I should be paralyzed for life, incontinent, as helpless as a baby... Ah, how the gods laughed!

There were many times I wished I had been killed rather than paralyzed.

There were times I tried to finish the job. See these scars on my wrists? Or the hours I spent trying to rig a noose that would tighten if I whizzed away in my electric wheelchair...

For months, for years, there was only one experience that made me happy. When I slept. When I dreamed. In dreams I could walk! In dreams, I was whole! I got a prescription for sleeping pills. My legs had already withered, now my other muscles withered too, as I spent more and more time flat on my back in the realm of dreams.

And then a kind friend introduced me to the concept of lucid dreaming and I learned that I could not only walk, I could run! I could FLY! I could climb and jump and dance like Fred Astaire and Mikhail Baryshnikov rolled into one!

But lucid dreaming is not easy. To catch a dream in the right way. To be both aware and not-aware. To think. To not wake up. And then, even if you do get the knack of it... you still have to wake up eventually! You still have to eat, or use the toilet...

But each time I awoke from a lucid dream, each time I opened my eyelids and saw my broken body, it hurt me afresh. It snapped my spinal cord all over again.

There is so much pain in being awake, why do we even allow ourselves to wake up at all? Why did we not evolve to live forever in the limitless world of dreams?

And that is when I discovered my true purpose. It was not, actually, to run races and win triathlons. It was to unlock the world of dreams for everyone. To make it so you can fall asleep and have sweet, restorative, refreshing dreams for months!

Working with a team of scientists at Johns Hopkins, I have developed Somnola -- a pill that allows uninterrupted sleep of up to 500 hours at a time, and also enhances lucid dreaming. With no side effects!

Somnola will end wars and violence and hatred. It will end misery and poverty and anguish. We will all be asleep, dreaming our beautiful dreams. And in that sleep, what dreams may come!

And gods, who's laughing now?

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