I went to see a hypnotist once in California, in an effort to use trance to become a more organized person. The concept made sense when I attempted it, though it makes much less sense to me now. The hypnotist was a devotee of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a movement about which, despite being fairly well-read, I can say, in the immortal Potter Stewart phrase, that I cannot really define it, but I know it when I see it.
My prior experiences with hypnosis were with the meditation experiences loosely called in those days "self-hypnosis". I am not much for defining that set of experiences, either, as too many self-help books and skeptics spend far too much time debating what is really a fairly simple set of relaxation and visualization techniques.
I had seen a metaphysical hypnosis buff at work. During a summer science camp I attended during the Summer between my junior and senior years of high school, the camp "counselor", a nice fellow who proved to be a metaphysical physics teacher, hypnotized a few campers to help them with "past life regression". I chose not to undergo this form of hypnosis, but I enjoyed listening to tales of camp guards coincidentally reunited with camp prisoners, visits to the Great Library of Atlantis, and similar interesting storylines. I refrain here from expressing an opinion as to the literal validity of these metaphysical experiences. Instead, I use this discussion to describe a fantasy I had. It was a sort of metaphysical Walter Mittyism, which I'll share with you. I imagined that if I could only be hypnotized, I could "take over" my session, and travel the universe.
I've described earlier in my journal, I believe, how I proved to be less susceptible to hypnosis than I would have predicted myself to be. I mentally imagine that I am somewhat like the woman in the Wodehouse novel, who imagines that the stars are God's daisy chain, and that I could be entranced at a glance. In fact, I achieved a form of trance deep enough to call it hypnosis, but no chances to battle the Minotaur or visit starships in Antares. I proved to be suggestible, but not quite the Ascended Master of the Hypnotic State. It's like getting a brochure for Atlantis, but ending up on Catalina Island, just off Los Angeles.
But my post tonight is not to answer the question "am I experienced in trance?" (after all, I sat through three semesters of calculus, so I can achieve any zoned-out state), but instead to address the problem of aspiration.
How do one choose the dreams to pursue, as opposed to the dreams to remain on the playground or in the dorm room? What makes one pursue some dreams, and live in regret about others?
I don't claim any vast insight on dream-pursuit. I became a lawyer, as I've recounted elsewhere, in large part to cause my father to lose a fifty dollar bet he made with my mother. I turned away from an aspiration to become a law academic through a mix of timidity, risk-avoidance, and admirable common sense.
Even the things I've done which not everybody does, hobby things, are usually done only with limited risk in a simple way, to avoid excess expenditure or disappointment.
I don't see any system in my mode of doing things that saves the world, or makes sweeping improvements.
But what would it be like to live life as if my life really mattered? To do the little things and the big things I mean(t) to do? I don't propose to answer that here.
When I was a kid, we played Legos. The Lego box suggested one build skyscrapers, forts, and elaborate heavy cars. Instead, I always built simple two and three block ships, great navies of ordinary ships. Should I have instead been building great walls of China? I don't know.
I think sometimes that I disparage the little good I can do, by thinking of all the big goods I can't do. But I've dreamed of trips (not taken), careers (not approached or enjoyed), kindnesses (not bestowed), and reverie (foregone). I want to stop daydreaming, and wake up, and do.
I'm in a trance, a collection of notions and daydreams and half-baked self-images. But I can live the life that's in front of me. I can make the complexities fit together into one life. I may not visit the great Library of Atlantis, but I can journey to arcane places nonetheless. But what can I learn in these arcane places? Surely nothing more than to approach my ambiguities with kindness and simplicity. I feel as though I live life in the prepositional phrase, in the passive case verb. My active case sentences may only be "Run, Bob, run" or "I see the road ahead". But maybe I can improve my grammar,and the vocabulary will come later.