On lucid dreaming

Just had a dream within a dream within a dream.

So I had woken up at 7:30 today, and went back to sleep at 9:30 with an alarm set at 11 AM so I can arrive on time for my lunch date with a friend. I dream that I woke up at 3 pm, and there are a million missed calls from the friend, who is probably justifiably mad. I look at my phone, it seems that I had instead set my alarm to 11 pm. Now, the reputed movie Waking Life has taught me that one can’t really read the time in dreams, so I take this as a sign that this is real life, and I panic and I tell my dad. After a while, I realize this was all a dream and I wake up and I tell my dad about it, and I still have enough time to get to lunch. Then I realize that was a dream, and I wake up again, tell my dad about it, and go off to lunch. That was also a dream.

I *just* woke up (for real, hopefully, this time), and found the friend’s text on my phone asking me to reschedule for dinner. I tell my dad about the whole thing.

Moral of the story: Don’t trust Waking Life as a guide to your lucid dreaming adventures.

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Graduate school as vision quest, rumspringa, walkabout, or a 2-year-long Burning Man

Burning Man 2013

It’s been a week since I have formally began graduate school in environmental studies — actually, “formally began” may be a bit of an exaggeration, for I haven’t had any classes yet. I went through the orientation process, met with my advising group and talked about my research interests with my prospective supervisor. However, in this short span, I have realized that the model for graduate education at the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York, is to say the least, unusual.

Upon recounting the stories of the “interdisciplinary shenanigans” the Faculty not only allows for, but facilitates and encourages, I have been met with awe, disbelief, and apparently a desire to cry and throw up from my friends. It’s been overwhelming, as someone with an engineering background who had to accept the constraints of a structured curriculum to finally accept that, yes, I am indeed free to do whatever I want and that I’m not insane for having really weird research interests (more on that later) and that I am actually encouraged to bring my ideas to fruition.

As such, I have began to describe my graduate program as a vision quest, a rumspringa, or a walkabout (or when I really want to be weird, Burning Man). If one really looks at the aims and structure of the program, this isn’t really far from the truth — but I realize from anecdotal evidence, at the very least, that graduate students get neither the support nor the opportunities for interdisciplinary research that FES does. However, I’m not confident that other graduate programs, should necessarily be as charitable with their expectations, depending on their desired outcomes. That notwithstanding, I believe higher education, both at undergraduate and graduate levels, stands to learn a lot about program organization and student support from FES, regardless of their pragmatic aims — especially considering the age of the people that are largely in said programs, and that their ages correspond roughly to that in which in other cultures one would be expected to go through some spiritual/physical rites of passage that are erroneously seen as obsolete in our culture.