Saved by Pythagoras: defeating a recurring nightmare

by Radio Somewhere

Dreaming of waking up in a strange place. Modern civilization, but language resembling nothing I’ve encountered. Can’t communicate or read signs. More than foreign — alien almost, although the people are definitely human. Just doesn’t feel like my world at all. And to crown everything — I’m at large in my pajamas!

Eventually, I wake up in a nighttime scene. There are three moons in the sky, confirming my initial assessment of an alien world. I panic — really panic. Earth suddenly seems out of reach and I believe I will not be returned home this time. I’m stuck here in my pajamas, unable to tell anyone who I am and how I ended up wandering the streets talking gibberish. I worry I will be mistaken for an escaped lunatic and locked up for hideous treatments.

When I wake up for real, it takes several minutes for me to realize that I am safe in my apartment in Seattle. I hear an early morning bus pull in and out of the stop outside. It wasn’t quite a lucid dream — but it really felt that I had been somewhere else — and I was terrified that I could indeed get stuck there.

I spent the whole day thinking about how I might defend myself; how I could break the language barrier and convince someone I was not a nutcase — that my brain inside was fine.

Then I had an idea. It was a modern world — and so would have engineers. And math would be taught in school. So I decided I would use whatever writing instrument available — pencil on paper, stone on concrete, anything that would make a legible impression — and draw the following figure:

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If I noticed any glimmer of recognition, I would keep going — writing out math fundamentals — everything I could remember, until someone realized what I was doing.

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Well. I never had that dream again!

That was around twelve years ago — and I still feel that I was being given a test of some kind.

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