After years of waiting Greg decided to see a psychologist. It was not that he was opposed to going to a psychologist. He respected the profession and knew many people helped by therapy. But for him to go -- it felt like admitting something was perhaps wrong with his life, perhaps deeply wrong, and he was afraid what would come up if he grabbed the problem by the roots and pulled.
The latest advances in dream technology convinced him. When the dream machine first started getting press on the blogs and then made its rounds on the news, Greg watched closely. This was something altogether different. Larry King interviewed Dr. Chen, head of the development lab and a the kind of man who never appeared comfortable on TV, and Greg saw as Larry inserted the tube into his mouth and spent the next 60 seconds of air time experiencing his own dream as an outsider. That was both the apex of public interest and televised use of the machine; it was both too weird and too abstract for mainstream news viewers. Callers were vocal and evenly split in their opinions.
Greg was not split. He wanted to try it. He had recorded his dreams on and off for several years. Some of it was hard to understand when he looked at it later:
Greg's Old Dream
I wanted to show dad the youtube video of our first house, filmed in the 50s;
dad in his office, smell of cigarette smoke, with two japanese or chinese men;
the feeling of coming to the door excited and being shut out or turned away;
going in the car to the synthetic place;
computers stored at the gate, to let out heat;
otherwise effectively sealed;
insects made of clay with hard metal framework inside with motors;
all programmed with variants of genetic algorithms done as a Java Apps;
the programmer was Nate or Nat;
being here had something to do with grandma's legacy;
the room with the gun, the bullets; what was real? could it really kill?
the place was beautiful; the water; the plants; all man-made
I tried to tell the young girl about it; we liked each other; we held hands...
For example. What is it I want, Greg wondered. What could I get from a dream machine? Without answers, just a feeling, he got referred by his primary physician to Dr. Klein.
The first session went like this:
"Greg, it's nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you, too."
"Before we get started, I need to explain to you a few things about our sessions. First off, and most importantly, everything you say in this room is confidential. That means I can't tell anyone what we talk about, unless there is strong evidence to suggest that you are danger to yourself or others, in which case I could break confidentiality to contact emergency services, for example. Other than that situation, what we talk about stays here. Do you have any questions about that?"
"No, I understand."
"Good. The second issue: if at any point you or you and I decide that psychiatric medication would be beneficial to you, this is something we can discuss and I can refer you to a psychiatrist. I cannot prescribe medication. I am a licensed dream machine operator, and if that is something you are interested in we can discuss it as well and decide whether it would be beneficial to your work here."
"The dream machine -- do you use it with other patients?"
"Well, I can't talk about the details of other's sessions, just like I can discuss what happens here with them. But I can say that some of my clients have used the dream machine and found it to be useful in our work. It is not a substitute for therapy, of course, but a powerful tool if we use it right."
"What does it feel like, to use it?" Dr. Klein smiled.
"You are interested in the dream machine?"
"Well, yes... I -- I just can't imagine what it's like."
"It is difficult to imagine, yes. Maybe this will help. You can compare it to being underwater. Imagine opening your eyes at the bottom of a swimming pool and walking around. It is different than walking on land, yes? Things are harder to see, and it takes more effort to move around. It is like this with the dream machine, too."
"Have you ever used it?"
"That is a very fair question of you to ask, and I am happy to answer it. But first let me ask you, how come you'd like to know if I've used it?"
"I guess just to see if you know what it's really like. Kind of like wondering if you've taken pills that you're about to prescribe."
"Would it make a difference to you if I hadn't used it, but had only seen others use it?"
"I don't know... I was just wondering, really."
"Greg," Dr. Klein takes off his glasses. "This is a good time as any to tell you something that I think is very important about therapy. This time we have together, it is your time. And it is as productive as you allow it to be. They say work in equals work out, yes? This is very true here. However much of yourself you bring to sessions, that is how much you will get out. It is easy to go slow, try to stay in comfortable places, but I urge you to take the chance to step out of your routines as much as possible. I don't mean routines like, wake up, drink coffee, comb your hair in a certain manner, etcetera. I mean other routines, the ones that are made from the ways we tend to think, feel, and understand our world. The goal of therapy is to make the toxic invisible visible. Once you can see what your demons are, Greg, you will be able to develop a fundamentally different relationship to them."
"Yes. Your demons. The dream machine can help with this, but please be aware that confronting yourself and your actions with quiet eye can be very upsetting, even in your dreams. In here things will go best if you strive to meet yourself with a non-judgemental eye. I am not here to judge you, and neither should you. I am sure there are many ideas of yourself you carry that are burdensome, or worse, painfully limiting. Is this true?"
"I -- I'm not sure about that."
"Just keep it in mind, Greg. And be prepared: you will have to meet demons in this room, whether asleep or awake. The critical question is not can you defeat them, but will you recognize them at all?"