"Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess it."

This is an essay question from my college apps as part of the UChicago supplement that I thought would be a fit addition to my blog considering all the random floaty stuff I blog about lol. So, enjoy? Hahahaha

...omg just read over this. did I really call myself a SCIENTIFIC-ENTHUSIAST? WTF DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE

Essay Option 3: Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, 'Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess it.' Give us your guess.


Rumour has it that it takes the average human being about 7 minutes to fall asleep every night. In those 420 seconds, our brainwaves slow, our thoughts drift and eventually our consciousness lifts from our bodies and flies away to some alternate dimension where physics is malleable and the unimaginable becomes reality. This is the ephemeral moment between living and dreaming that each of us experiences every night, and one that very few understand; it is not a rare occurrence, but the veil of unconsciousness slides over our minds before we can stop and think to observe. And, of course, if we wait for it eagerly in an attempt to study it, sleep never comes – like the light that drives away shadows we wish to inspect. Between living and dreaming there is a third thing – mystery.

As Albert Einstein once said, “the most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious—the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” As an artist and scientific-enthusiast myself, I can relate to this sentiment; mystery provokes curiosity, which induces scientific advancement and artistic vision. The bridge between a dream and making it a living reality is the urge to understand a certain aspect of the world we cannot envision – the effect of mystery. There are then those who are quite happy with the concept of the mysterious, the belief wherein that which cannot be understood should be left as is – the dreams in our minds are pure imagination whereas our physical living world is tangible, but any blur in between should remain smudged.. To sharpen it would, as romantic poet John Keats described, be to “conquer all mysteries by rule and line… unweave a rainbow”.

Indeed, the beauty of mystery is one we all know too well. The strange feeling of déjà vu where we cannot distinguish reality from imagination flows over us as a tinglingly uncomfortable, yet elucidating, sensation. How boring would the world be if we knew everything as truth? No more wonder, no more knowledge-pursuing motivation, no more curiosity to explore? Mystery is the limitless shades of grey between the ends of the scale, between the stark white of wake and reality and the black unconscious world of sleep and fantasy. I want to form theories that can both neither be de-bunked nor proven, the liberty to invent, the freedom to imagine!

I do wonder, though, where we go during our dreams. It seems a whole new imaginative world is created, but how are we transported there? The journey surely takes place in the question-marked blank between wake and sleep. I like to imagine that perhaps it is the spirit of a train, pale blue and shimmering, masked behind galaxies of stars, reaping the minds of the asleep without their knowledge and dropping them off some place over the horizon in another dimension we cannot usually see. Or, perhaps each of us have a smaller being inside our brains that we become when we fall asleep, miniature selves exploring the labyrinths of our own memories. We can only theorize – and that is the beauty of the mysterious.

Yes, mystery represents inquisition, beauty, imagination and unknown expedition; it allows us the ability to bridge the gap between our minds and the world, between reality and fantasy, between living...

…and dreaming.

Then again, perhaps it is not altogether as inexplicable as I think: I am sure that my friends who roll around restlessly for hours past the allotted 7 minutes would tell me that the only thing between living and dreaming is insomnia.


Anonymous said...

I love what you've written about this question! I came across it as I've been on a quest (all my life truth be said) to connect more clearly with this part our essence.
Beautiful--Thank you!!