What Are Your Neighbors Really Up To?

Throughout our lives we mistakenly assume our neighbors and acquaintances are going about their lives in a manner similar to our own. It often takes a good hard shaking to wake us to the fact that this is occasionally not the case. That reality check might come when your neighbor gets arrested for possessing child porn while all the while you had believed he was wiling away the hours at his computer investigating how to perfect his hybrid hostas. Or you wake to the headline that the biggest meth lab bust in the state happened two blocks from your house, during which time you were in bed, dog-earing that Kipling book you've always wanted to finish.

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."

There is a time for being aware of what is going on around us, and a time for burying our heads in the sand. Let us take a moment to peek out of the dunes, lift our binoculars like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, and focus on what might really be happening behind those lace curtains across the street.

Moving our binoculars to the first window, we see a young girl immersed in a growing fad called lucid dreaming. While most of us are trying to get enough sleep to simply be able to converse coherently the next day, others are desperately attempting to enlighten their consciousness with this new snake oil for the mind. The simple explanation is that lucid dreaming is being aware that you are in a dream, and then controlling that dream. It promises to take you to "another level" -- kind of like when the Beatles went to the Himalayas, but usually minus the drugs. One lucid dreaming Facebook page claims their "experiential two day workshop" includes "sacred movement, investigative exercises, guided meditations and dreaming," that will be "combined with storytelling, journeys to other worlds, (and) move participants into dreaming. Lucid dreaming can be awoken in anybody." To most people of the Christian faith, these catch phrases are equivalent to holding a séance. To those of us who have suffered from sleep paralysis, it sounds like self-torture.

One otherwise healthy young girl, who began dabbling in lucid dreaming, posted this internet plea for help: "I feel huge vibrations when I sleep. I developed sleep paralysis. I'm afraid to go to sleep, somebody help!" Claiming to have already tried the "mild' and "wild" techniques of lucid dreaming -- including rubbing her hands together or "spinning like a tornado" in an effort to "get back to the same dream," she found herself now facing some very real physical consequences for engaging in a craze that boast tens of thousands of "illuminated" followers.

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim...

As we turn our gaze to the window with the open shutters below, we find a young man who lacks any religious foundation deciding to give "energy work" a try. This real story comes to me of a young man looking for "any energy-working acts to get a parent off your back (nothing harmful, anything relating to Paganism or Wicca would be great)." What a relief, he's only looking to invoke energy from Paganism or Wicca instead of one of those harmful religious alternatives. Of course this is nothing new, I myself have been surrounded by coworkers who were Wiccans and made my life a living hell with their anti-Christian bigotry. If you haven't heard the whole spiel about "good" witches being different than "bad" witches (from someone who isn't talking about The Wizard of Oz,) you haven't dipped your toe in the extremely popular whirling cesspool that is socially condoned witchcraft. It's got such a following that you can be pretty sure there is someone, somewhere, trying to harness earth, wind, fire and water to send some kind of "energy" your way. If they have "eye of newt and toe of frog" in there however, you can rest easy that they're only invoking The Scottish Play.

Oh the road to En-dor is the oldest road
And the craziest road of all!
Straight it runs to the Witch's abode,
As it did in the days of Saul,
And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
For such as go down on the road to En-dor!

Moving to the very top window, we find a reclusive neighbor who subscribes to a vampire magazine. Not because he loves the cinematic Bela Lugosi, but because he's truly convinced he needs to drink blood. If he's really hip, he's part of the gay vampire subculture, or partying at the vampire bar.

Lastly, and perhaps most frighteningly, is your closest neighbor. She's a liberal blogger who excitedly reposts everything from The Maddow Blog, while rabidly devouring the latest irrelevant 72 point headlines on the Huffington Post. Her favorite book is Greenblooded: An Introduction to Eco-Friendly Feminine Hygiene, a topic she thinks sane enough to blog about daily. While she's never actually mentioned your "Don't Tread On Me" hat, she's convinced you are a rabid bigot, and is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to shove your hat down your throat. If you're really unlucky, she's conjuring negative energy against you while lucid dreaming about how to get a taste of your warm blood.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you...

(Of course we haven't even touched upon the millions of people addicted to street drugs or prescription drugs or alcohol; or those poor dark souls spending their lives contemplating death by suicide. The troubling fact is that contemporary society has so devolved as to make the repulsive culture of Cabaret about as shocking as a church picnic.)

We conclude the scene with our neighbor's footsteps approaching our door. They are coming for us, because we know what they buried in their flower garden. We rapidly flash our camera bulbs to blind them and keep them at bay. Is it real... or only a lucid dream?

Perhaps it's time to close the curtains, go back to bed, and open that dog-eared book and say:

I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.

*All quotes by Rudyard Kipling

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