On the third day of my hypnogogic journey I came across a large waiting room full of people wearing strange baroque headgear made of velvet, steel wool and artificial ostrich feathers. They didn’t to appear to be doing very much other than just waiting around. ‘What’s going on with you guys,’ I asked them, ‘what are you all waiting for?’ They were more than willing to talk to me. A spokesperson was elected who courteously introduced himself and explained to me that they were killing time in the best way that they knew how until the time came for them to pass on from this world into the next (the world that people go to when they die, that is). This was as yet a long way off and so the only thing to do was to hang around and pass the time as best they could. This was the only thing for it, the elected spokesperson explained to me.
‘Excellent, excellent,’ I replied enthusiastically, delighted to hear of their foresight and diligence in the matter of passing the time yet remaining to them (which was no easy matter considering the fact that they had so much of it on their hands). ‘Keep up the good work chaps,’ I called out to them as I carried on with my journey, keen to see who else I else I might meet and what I would learn in my next encounter.
I been scarcely been walking for another hour when I stumbled across a great crowd of grey homunculi torturing and tormenting themselves, each one apparently trying to outdo all the others. Some were poking themselves in their eyes with their big stubby fingers, others where stamping hard on their own toes with no let up, whilst others again were pinching themselves most viciously, obviously trying to cause themselves the maximum amount of pain. A few of these self-punishing homunculi were engaged in sticking splinters of wood under their own fingernails, which brought tears to my eyes even just from watching them. One of these fellows had gone a stage further, stabbing himself repeatedly in the leg with a sharpened pencil. ‘Hey dudes,’ I called out, would you mind telling me what you’re all up to with this self-punishing behaviour?’ The homunculus who had been savagely punishing himself with the pencil stopped what he had been doing and looked up at me. ‘Certainly we wouldn’t mind telling you,’ replied in an oddly high-pitched tone of voice, ‘we are torturing ourselves ruthlessly so that we can transcend this wretched corporeal existence and attain a spiritual state of being.’ He then resumed his work, jabbing himself over and over again with what looked like a 2H pencil. ‘That’s marvellous,’ I told him warmly, ‘keep up the splendid work and I hope it all goes well for you guys.’ I saluted them to show them my respect and carried on my way, agog with excitement at the thought of what wonders I might come across next.
I had only been walking for twenty minutes this time when I came around the corner and was met with the sight of a whole bunch of people sitting in a circle engaged in some kind of group-therapy process. Two facilitators were leading the group, answering questions, explaining points of theory, handing out bits of literature, and projecting interesting-looking diagrams from a laptop onto a screen. I politely interfered with the group process to ask what they were all doing. One of the facilitators answered me in a very professional tone, ‘we are teaching and modelling positive mental health strategies,’ he told me, ‘by learning tools and strategies the group members will be able to manage their mental health effectively.’ ‘Excellent, excellent,’ I enthused, ‘I am truly delighted to see such good therapy work going on!’ I bade the group a hearty farewell and continued on my travels, but as it turned out I was to experience no more marvels on this particular journey because the hypnogogic state suddenly destabilized and I came back to my senses at home in the comfort of my own study. I wasn’t disappointed though – look how much I had learned, after all!