The Land Between Two Worlds

In Spanish class, our teacher instructed us to find our “happy place” before we listened to native speakers on tape. I had never heard that term before, and no one ever asked for clarification, but the same place always came to mind.

I imagined a turquoise ocean, a white beach, and an azure sky, then focused on the task at hand: figuring out what the Spanish speakers were rattling off. The tranquility of my happy place helped me concentrate.

After that class, though, I never thought about happy places.

Not until one night several years later. In bed, eyes closed, nearly asleep, I realized my mind was taking me somewhere strange. I clung to the neck of a winged beast as we flew through frigid night. Blackness stretched below us, and purple plastered the sky. Then I saw where we were flying: a giant, rocky plateau that seemed to rise out of nowhere, many miles away from us. Fifty-foot-tall glowing pink crystals thrust from the terrain, and a maze of stone buildings populated the lonely plateau. This was a place of solitude, isolated from the world’s troubles. The world was unfamiliar, and not at all like the paradisiacal beach from Spanish class, but somehow I felt at home.

I re-visited the crystal city as I drifted off to sleep the following nights. I realized I had found a legitimate happy place, and I wanted to learn more about it, but I didn’t want to push too hard. I suspected the city was, like a portal to Narnia, not completely under my control. Push too hard and the entrance might cave in. Return too often and the magic might evaporate.

Eventually, my happy place ebbed out of existence. I missed it, badly.

But more came.

I entered a snow-laden evergreen forest smelling of pine, mountains, and, somehow, mint. I trudged through snow, spurred on by the thought of my snug cottage mere minutes away and my family awaiting me by the crackling fire.

Another land between waking and sleeping: I found myself sitting at the edge of a pond, my feet entrenched in cool mud, a gentle breeze blowing over me, and water lapping at my ankles. On the fourth or fifth visit to this idyllic site, I looked up. My loved ones who have passed before me were waiting for me at the edge of the grove, smiling at me.

Or a wardrobe, standing quietly in a large and otherwise empty room. Rain pelts the latticed pane of the arched window to my left. Laughter echoes down a distant hall. The door of the wardrobe? Ajar.

Don’t exhaust your mind before bed with a flashy screen. You’ll collapse on the sheets and fall asleep in three seconds. Instead, take your mind on a date and flirt with it like it’s your teenage crush. It knows that life worries and scares you and will provide the anchor you need to keep you in the harbor.

22 thoughts on “The Land Between Two Worlds

  1. Nicely evoked!
    Have you read “Becoming A Writer” by Dorothea Brande? An oldie but a goodie. She recommends writing whatever comes into your head first thing when you wake up – before you even get out of bed – to capture the richness of the space between sleep and wake on paper. And of course for the physical and mental practice of Just Doing It.

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  2. Love your post. Strange how we try and imprint our happy place, but our unconscious mind has it’s own ideas. Like you, I imagined it would be a sun soaked beach. However, my dreams often have me all snuggled up with my dog inside an igloo while a storm rages outside. I hate the cold so would not have chosen this as a happy place.

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    • Ha! That’s so interesting. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced the actual feeling of hot or cold in my dreams. Scents and tastes, yes. But they seem to be devoid of temperature and maybe sound too? You’ve got me thinking now . . .

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  3. Most inspiring dreams and excellence in writing Mr. Rains. I was tempted to drop it so that I could pick up a brush due to its illustrative quality. Of course, the story kept me through completion. I will remember it next time a happy place is needed. Thank you and sweet dreams 😊

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      • Like Deborah M.’s suggestion above, that’s where most of my art begins… Before I even get out of bed. Sometimes I close my eyes as they try insistently to wake without my spirit ready to return to wakeful moments. Then it’s a roulette spin on whether or not I can hold a final vision of the dreams I’d just had. Goodnight friendly scribe 😔

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      • Haha I am late in saying good night to you, but night has come around again. I’m trying to write down my dreams, but I’ve been unsuccessful so far in capturing that “otherness” that makes them so strange. Does that make sense? Good night, Adriana!

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      • That absolutely makes sense! It is otherworldly at times. Recently I had nightmares mares all in one night. I suppose it was the impending sense of facing overwhelming challenges. I prefer to brush those off and keep my artwork on the positive lighter side. Have a great time capturing those obscure dreams into fantastic writings! All the best…
        ~Adriana

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    • De vez en cuando en mis sueños hablo en español, pero no es nada muy común. Y en mis “lugares felices,” nunca. Si tuviera que explicar la falta de español, yo diría que la razón es que el español no es mi lengua materna, y por eso no siento completamente cómodo en pensar en ese idioma. Y mis lugares felices no tienen ningún rasgo de incomodidad. Pero es sólo una conjetura. Quizás esta noche mi lugar feliz esté una masa en España pero no sé. Buen comentario y gracias.

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  4. I absolutely agree that your happy place should be entirely comfortable. Despite a little Spanish, French and Arabic I always dream in English, my mother tongue. I am envious of your dreams, I have a bad dream or occasionally a nightmare every night, all with repetitive themes.

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    • Oh no! I wonder what causes bad dreams. I have them before upcoming major life events, good or bad, but that’s about it. And when I was a child, loads of primordial nightmare where spiders invaded the house or I came home and my family had been replaced by robots.

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