I read, somewhere, that people worldwide were having trouble sleeping during the self-quarantine era in which we’re currently living. I also read, somewhere, that people worldwide were having particularly vivid, almost lucid, dreams during the self-quarantine era in which we’re currently living. I’m not entirely sure that these things aren’t somewhat contradictory.
Neither one is necessarily true for me, right now, anyway. After a few weeks where I was sleeping poorly — for reasons that had far more to do with restless dogs deciding that they needed to go outside at 1am than anything to do with the virus — I seem to have rediscovered my ability to sleep incredibly well. In fact, not only am I sleeping more deeply than usual right now, I’m sleeping longer, as well; I’m waking up anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes later than where/when I’ve woken up since the Brazil trip, and I’m feeling more refreshed and relaxed, as well. Global pandemics are, it appears, good for my sleep cycle.
With the sleeping in comes something else new; I’m remembering my dreams (slightly) more.
I think it’s happening because, more often than not, I’m actually getting woken up by something external — the dogs, most mornings — and, therefore, getting woken up mid-dream, so they’re fresher in my head. This probably doesn’t stand up to scientific thinking, I’m sure, but it’s what I’ve got, and I’m sticking with it.
It’s particularly unexpected because… well, I feel like I haven’t really been remembering a lot of dreams in general for awhile. I’ve been told that this, the not remembering, is a sign of being in a good, relaxed headspace and getting comfortable sleep, and that might be true, but it’s particularly dull at the same time. Doesn’t everyone want to have a little insight into what their brain is thinking when they’re not using it…? Isn’t that something other people are curious about…?
What I’m remembering aren’t full stories, or even complete scenes. Instead, they’re feelings, glimpses of other things that honestly make a lot of sense right now: there’s a lot of traveling, being in different countries and just being outside, being amongst other people. The things that are impossible now, and which may in different circumstances feel exhausting or oppressive, but right now feel exciting and exotic. I dream of things that don’t exist anymore. This feels right, somehow.
I’m not sure it was the intended takeaway, but my favorite thing about Star Trek: Picard now that the first season is done really might be the way that it underscores the importance of aging to the franchise.
That’s not to say that there wasn’t an upside to the rest of the show — I like the new cast fine, even if they mostly weren’t given anything to do beyond circle around Patrick Stewart and chew on the one piece of character they were each given, and there was something in the not-entirely-thought-through central plot, even if it fell apart if you thought about it too long — but it’s no accident that the highlight of the series for me was watching Old Man Picard visit Old Riker and Old Troi, and just getting to watch the three play off each other for the majority of the episode, with the two junior officers not falling for their old boss’s bullshit the way the new cast — the way the show itself — did.
Thinking about why that one particular episode made me so happy, I first went to the fact that, fuck it; I’m thirty years older than I was when Next Generation was airing, so I appreciated the sight of old favorites aging and becoming parents. The more I thought about it, though, the more I went back to the fact that, somewhere along the line, Star Trek became a story in part about getting older.
The movies, of course, are hugely responsible for this in part: we all made jokes about William Shatner’s corset or his toupee, but the fact remains that we followed the original cast from their youthful peak through old age, continuing to do their jobs and save the galaxy the entire time. The Trek movies expanded the idea of what a space hero looked like, even accidentally, by keeping the cast in their roles through retirement age.
And then, the subsequent series, through necessity, introduced younger casts but used nostalgia to return to even older versions of the originals. We saw old McCoy, old Spock, old Scotty, eventually old Kirk…! Just think of the subtitle of that second series: The Next Generation. Star Trek had become a generational saga.
It’s a minor theme, of course; that whole seeking out new worlds, new life forms, thing still rules, as does the importance of curiosity and optimism over small mindedness and nativism. Nonetheless, accepting — embracing — the aging process is in the Trek DNA, and it’s there that where Picard really worked.