The Ring

He has a dream where he is bound to a ring. The ring moves, but he can never tell if it advances forward, rolling along a path, or whether it simply spins around one point, taking him back again and again to the same point of space from which he started.

In the dream, the spinning of the ring is the only thing which marks the passage of time. He knows when he has begun another cycle. There is a sense of a starting point, though there is little by which to mark it. From there, his unit of time passes: he travels up over the crest of the ring, and then around and downward, until he hangs below it for a time. Then he comes back up again and back to the start.

The ring is the life of the man in the dream who he thinks of as himself. He’s not sure whether the person in the dream is him or someone else. He knows only that he sees from their viewpoint. When he has other dreams, he sees through his own eyes at times; and other times, he follows the actions of another, as though he’s watching a movie from inside the head of a character.

It’s unclear who the man bound to the ring is. It feels like it must be himself, because there’s nothing to otherwise distinguish them. At the same time, he feels a strong dissociation with that person: a disconnection from their endlessly looping life which repeats monotonously until he awakens after what feels like decades stuck in the loop.

There are hints that the man in the dream who might be him could escape the ring. There is existence beyond the ring. It is not all that is, within the dream world. It is hard to perceive what lies beyond it, both because of the impelled motion and because all that exists, apart from the ring, lacks focus. 

The reality beyond the ring is blurred to the point of near imperceptibility. It has color and perhaps even form, but he can’t perceive it. He has tried squinting. He has tried reaching out from the ring with his hands, to see whether he can grasp at what may be nearby objects. The ring pulls his hands back, though, with an inescapable force. No sooner has he raised a hand a mere foot from its surface than it snaps his appendage back with painful velocity.

He is always confused when he awakens from the dream, because it feels very real, despite its unreality. It is the only dream he has which recurs. Sometimes, in the brief moments after waking, he thinks that it is his life which is the dream, and not the ring.

He goes about his day: breakfast, shower, work, lunch, work, dinner, television, bed… dream. He seeks little in the way of variation, until he reaches the dream about the ring. There, and only there, he wonders what it would be like to fall away from the ring, to reach out to those blurred, colorful objects that exist beyond his reach and his ken. Sometimes he goes to bed early, with the hope that on that night, he’ll peel away from the ring and explore the mysterious world.

But the dream just repeats, loop after loop, and he awakens disappointed that nothing has changed.

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