Operating telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory means that I work a night shift. My working days typically start at 4pm and end in morning twilight, about a half hour before sunrise. Despite that, I often spend my off time on a day schedule. Originally this was a matter of necessity. Being on a day schedule allowed me to interact with my kids before they went to school and after they came home. I also find that I don’t do well staying on a night schedule all the time. I find I do need occasional time out in the sunshine. Also, the neighbors get a little cranky if I mow the yard at midnight!
One of the ways I’ve adapted to swapping schedules is that I drive to work the night before my shift begins. I stay up as late as I can and then sleep as long as I can during the next day. This works pretty well, though I do find the older I get the more my circadian rhythms resist the change back to nights. No matter how late I’ve stayed up, my eyes will tend to pop open for a while around 8am. If I’m tired enough, I will usually go right back to sleep. What I’ve also noticed is that especially on the first night getting ready for a shift, I’m prone to lucid dreams. In short, lucid dreams are ones where you’re consciously aware you’re dreaming. This has become common enough that I’ve discovered I can sometimes interact with my dreams. I can decide where to go or what to look at.
The experience of lucid dreaming feels at once profound and limited. It feels profound because it feels like I’ve gained control of a realm where we normally have no control. It feels limited because the control isn’t complete. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like playing a video game. I can move around, explore some things, but I don’t really control the “plot” or what other people in the dream do. Still, I can see why there’s a history of spiritual teachers, especially in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, ascribing special significance to lucid dreaming.
When I re-read Children of the Old Stars in preparation for starting a new edition, I noticed that I used dreams and dream imagery quite a bit. In my revisions for the forthcoming edition, I decided to enhance this and bring in some of my experience with lucid dreaming. I plan to expand these themes in the next book, Heirs of the New Earth. There, the protagonist’s experience with lucid dreams from Children of the Old Stars, prepares him for being able to move around a non-corporeal reality.
My Patreon supporters have been joining me as I rewrite Children of the Old Stars for a new edition. That journey will wrap up later this month. In fact, I’ve already started the process of giving the book a complete, comprehensive re-read for consistency and last-minute corrections. I’ve also gone ahead and set the ebook up for pre-order. It’s currently available for pre-order at the following stores: