I have written about this feeling probably hundreds of times on this website, and in about as many ways, what with me feeling it so frequently . . . which is to say: that I know I’m dreaming, and that this is my dream, or at the very least I am someone else’s dream who knows that they are in a dream. Sometimes I pretty comfortable with whatever my life is, because I know more or less who or what I am, and all the people around me, and the place I am in, and so on. There seems to be some sort of cohesion or harmony to it that is reassuring to me. But then something invisibly changes in and around me, and I start to feel like a stranger in my own life. It comes on gradually and I never quite know what triggers it. It makes me feel as though I’m in that Twilight Zone episode where the guy is walking around in the empty town and seeing little signs of people having just been there, like a steaming cup of coffee or a lit cigarette, or whatever, only he can never find anyone but himself. It is not a good feeling! It is a very lonely feeling. I find that I am the only consistent part of my reality and all other people and things feel wholly alien to me, as though I, Ryan, woke up one morning in a completely different place in a completely different life. It resembles the life I thought was mine, but something feels off. I’ll think: This isn’t my life . . . it must be someone else’s. I got switched around, or something. The other Ryan is in my world, and I’m in the other Ryan’s world.

I am in a dream that feels like my old dream, but it is not the same dream. And I feel like I’ll never know for sure, because a dream builds on itself. As long as I stay asleep, it will continue to build in every direction. If I turn a corner, I do not step out into nothingness. No, the dream expands and creates a new street. I keep walking and the city keeps growing just beyond my sight.

When I am alone in my apartment at night with the curtains closed, it doesn’t feel like anything else is happening outside of it. It feels like I am floating around inside a capsule in the vacuum of space and my own thoughts are all I have to prove to myself that I am still alive, and even then. Does your awareness of yourself really ever “”prove”” anything though? It doesn’t feel like enough anymore.

I don’t know what I’m saying. I feel sick is all. I feel pretty lonely. Everyone I want to be around is far away from me right now. And I’m just trapped here in this plastic little apartment in this plastic little city with this plastic little job, and on and on. If this is reality then it is a bad reality. I used to feel sentimental about some of the things in my life, but now I don’t know what I’m looking at anymore. I’m looking at someone else’s life. I hold it up to my face and I feel nothing about it except that it isn’t the thing I thought it was, and it definitely doesn’t feel familiar. If it was a dream then I prefer the dream to this.

Philip K. Dick:

In comparison to my life in the inter-connected dreams, this life is lonely and phony and worthless; unfit for an intelligent and educated person. Where are the roses? Where is the lake? Where is the slim, smiling, attractive woman coiling and tugging the green garden hose? The person that I am now, compared with the person in the dream, has been baffled and defeated and only supposes he enjoys a full life. In the dreams, I see what a full life really consists of, and it is not what I really have.