Nicotine and Premonitions

I was probably 8 when it first happened. I had an ordinary dream about walking into the garage at my parent's house — nothing amiss; something I do regularly — and I stepped on my uncle Charlie's toe. I continued walking into the garage, and the dream ended.

A few months later my parents had the family over. Most of my dad's brothers and sisters still live near the Baltimore suburb where I grew up, so this was a common occurrence. At some point between building paper airplanes or playing video games with my cousins, I came upstairs to the kitchen and headed for the garage to get a Coke. The door was already open, and my uncle Charlie was standing near it having a conversation with someone out in the garage. I saw him standing there, but accidentally stepped on his toe as I crossed the threshold — “Ow! Watch it, bud.”

I grabbed a Coke from the fridge as the strangeness of what just happened hit me — was that really the same dream I had?

I wouldn't have another one of these occurrences for a few years, when they started to happen more frequently and came in myriad forms. There were still the tiny ordinary dreams that would happen later and I'd get the unsettling sensation of having just done something in the exact same way I'd already done it in the past.

One dream opened to me running fast on my parent's front yard towards some giant green, or maybe yellow, ball. I leaped, saw the trees and the sky scroll down my vision, and then the dream was over. Some time after that, my sister had brought home a me-sized giraffe-spotted ball from the toy store. My friends and I took it out in the yard to roll it around, jump on it ass-first and bounce off of it into the grass. Then from a dare or simple one-upmanship, I ran towards the ball, jumped, and bounced feet-first off of it. I did a half-flip in the air and landed straight on top of my head, blacking out for a moment.

Analyzing this now, it seems these premonitions were of important early lessons: watch out for people's feet; don't jump feet-first on a giant bouncy ball.

Other times, I would wake up some mornings with a single song in my head, for example. Later in the day it might play on my MP3 player (big deal) — or it might be blaring out the windows of a car outside passing by.

As I started getting involved with girls, they would occasionally show up in these premonitions. One notable time was on the annual family beach trip one year, when I met an older girl — an aloof 20 year old who took a (requited) liking to me. Our fling initially developed over that week at the beach, and the night after meeting, I started having dreams about tiny sparse moments with her.

In a dream at the beginning of the week, we stood in the dark hallway of her rented beach house and she motioned for me to follow her to the bedroom she and her friend were sleeping in. Enamored with this cool, smart older girl, the dream stuck in my mind for the following days. And having seen enough deja vu's in the past, I hoped it was simply fated to happen, and I was just lucky enough to get a glimpse of it ahead of time.

But we know that's not how it works.

Whatever the explanation for seeing “future” events, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: fate is not written in the stars, but in our bodies. And, obviously, I won't get invited into a girl's room simply because I dreamt it, but because of corporeal actions that would eventually prompt her to invite me into her room.

I learned a lot about fate that week. In certain past times sitting in a basement getting high, I seriously worried about fate; that some giant force is pulling my strings and I have to just accept and go along with it, powerless to change the various outcomes.

But of course that's bullshit.

Anything can be retroactively analyzed and said to be fate. Right now, I might say I was fated to write the words you're reading — and I'd be right, at this point. But it was only the series of actions performed in the first place that led me to this moment. To, at birth, say, “I'm fated to write a blog post about premonitions!” doesn't make any sense, because waiting around for that “fate” to happen to you is like waiting for the earth to move one step towards you, instead of you ever taking a step forward. It simply won't happen without your input.

Near the end of that week at the beach, as I started to get lazy and “let” things happen, I saw this. In the end I didn't get invited to her room, but I did end up in the same dark hallway at the same doorway with a kiss and a smile “goodnight.”

Throughout the various phases of my life, I've realized the significance of these reality-dreams. I always sought to understand why, like when considering notions of fate, and what, as in, what is time?, and also how, as in how do I get these dreams?

Various other humans like Alan Watts would back up my current notion of time, which is essentially that there is none. Not in the common way we think of it, at least. Our perception of time is a limited spotlight on the timeline of events in the universe, which we call “now.” Depending on your adherence to eastern philosophy, that spotlight can range from a tiny laser point (“now is just a moment;” more past memories and future expectations) to a wide light spreading far over what many westerners call “the past” and “the future” (though this is a severe simplification). I have to believe the latter, because it's the only explanation for being able to dream so vividly of “future” events.

I also noticed something this week, after temporarily picking up smoking again. I haven't seen many realized premonitions in the past several years, and I've wondered why. Compared to my teenage years and early twenties I drink more beer, smoke a lot less pot and no usually no cigarettes; so maybe more depressants and less stimulants have to do with it. Maybe a lack of sleep from working and getting up at the same time 5 days a week. Maybe my mental state from pursuing currency every day. I'm not sure.

But today I woke up with a song in my head. Alone in the house, I walked around singing it. I sat down at my desk to write something and played my shuffled 5,000-song music library, and on the third track, heard the song. Earlier in the week, I also had 3 incredibly tiny deja vu's, so small I can't even recall what the moments were. But it is always striking enough when it happens to make you note it. I'm curious if a certain part of my brain is responsible for these dreams, and if nicotine activates it. These occurrences are oddly comforting, like smacking me in the face with the reminder that there's more to see and less that's obvious. It seems the world is full of mysteries, most right in our faces. The way we see them is never obvious, but when we do, they're always in ways we never would've imagined.