In the movie Margin Call, an unforgettable scene takes place when a group of businessmen are standing on top of a thousand foot building in New York City. One of the characters puts his feet up on the railing towards the edge of the building, and says darkly, "You know, the feeling that people experience when they stand on the edge like this isn't the fear of falling - it's the fear that they might jump." My first lucid dream went something like this…
My friend and I were up late talking about the feeling that you get when you are on top of a tall building, and how you sometimes kind of get this fear that you might jump. We both found it slightly disturbing that we had experienced this very thought before. Although the conversation was very interesting to me, I fell asleep – perhaps, even in the middle of our pillow talk.
I drifted off into a dream where I was racing up this gigantic, spiral staircase with two of my childhood friends. For whatever reason, we were competing with each other on our way up to the top. The staircase was structured a lot like one of those scaffolding's you see at construction sites; only, this one was hundreds of feet tall. It was held up by four, thin metallic bars, which appeared to have been cemented into the ground. Somehow, the structure stood together, even though it swayed greatly in the wind. It also squeaked every step we took. The staircase appeared almost infinite but we eventually arrived at the top.
I can remember having this repeated anxiety rush through my body, which caused me to feel like the structure we were standing on might be too weak to hold our weight. As I looked down toward the ground, adrenaline pulsated through my veins. I can remember thinking again that the structure we were standing on was way too wobbly to hold us up. But during my worry, I took notice of a mysterious white object on the ground, which looked about the size of an ant from my perspective. I felt confused and had no clue what it was doing there. But, I later came to realize it was really just my bed that I would soon find myself sleeping on.
As I looked down, I got that feeling I was talking about with my friend right before I drifted off into sleep. The fear of possibly jumping entered my mind and I couldn't help but remember the conversation I had just been having with my friend.
Oddly enough, I looked to my right and I was standing next to exact same friend that I had been talking to while I was drifting off into sleep. I wanted to open my mouth to tell him that I just had that feeling we were talking about, but what was bizarre was that before I could even do so I connected the fact that the last clear memory I could recollect was of the conversation he and I were having before I had fallen asleep. I’m dreaming, I realized.
Here I was, on top of this tottering scaffolding with two of my best friends, and I was dreaming. We were hundreds of feet above the ground, and it still made no sense how this strange structure was somehow standing; I was perfectly ware that I was dreaming.
It was an introspective realization for me. In this moment, that saying, “the world is your oyster,” took on an entirely new meaning. For the first time in my life, consciousness appeared in a place it had never before existed – in my dreams.
When I looked at my friends, they were talking to each other. It was as if I didn't even exist to them anymore, like I was third person. They were talking and laughing. And as I looked at their faces, I noticed how perfectly they matched my recollections of them. It was very bizarre.
The significance of this moment slowly entered in my conscious mind. I realized that I could do just about anything without consequence. I decided to take advantage of the situation entirely, and do something drastic. I knew, after all - it was just a dream.
I climbed to the outside of the railing and looked down at the ground again, fighting the anxiety, which was building up inside me. The mysterious white object was still visible below. It was hundreds of feet lower than I was, and that urge to jump eventually began to prevail. Hot strains of blood palpitated through my heart and I did the necessary thing in order to face my inherent fear of heights... I jumped.
As I stood on the outside of the railing, I half expected the adrenaline to stop pumping because I was dreaming after all, but the adrenaline just kept escalating. Hesitantly, I released my grip slowly but immediately regretted doing so. Because from this strange architecture I had constructed in my mind, I fell frantically through hundreds of feet of thin air. In all seriousness, I had the same emotions I think you’d probably feel, were you to actually jump off something so tall during waking life. I screamed the entire way down.
It wasn’t until my back hit the white fabric of that mysterious white object that I woke up with a gasp in bed. My eyes opened briskly, and my heart continued to beat like a high school drum-line. The emotional intensity slowly dissolved from my central nervous system and I sat up. I was in a darkly lit room and was lying on the white fabric of my bed sheets left in awe at what I had just witnessed.
I had just experienced my first lucid dream.