I dreamed the other day that I had developed Alzheimer's and had nine years left. According to the dream, my memories would gradually disintegrate; all the Masonic ritual that I had spent countless hours committing to memory would vanish.
It was not a particularly disturbing dream, nor is it far-fetched. Dementia hit both my father and his mother, so I imagine that I stand a better-than-half chance of acquiring this disease, and I'm not particularly optimistic that medicine will find a treatment for it anytime soon. However, it struck my father and grandmother in their 70s, and I'm a bit away from that. And while many of my dreams are precognitive, I recognize the predictive qualities only in retrospect.
Still, the dream felt oddly "real." I do know that in the late '70s, I recorded a number of strange dreams that involved me trapped in bizarre, meaningless, and endless patterns. Years later, I recognized those dreams as a prediction of obsessive-compulsive disorder that would flare up soon after the dreams.
The dream might also be a way of indirectly addressing the question that's been occupying me lately, "What is consciousness, what is the self, and where does it reside?" Materialists say that consciousness resides in the brain. Seth had a unique perspective on dementia, senility, and Alzheimer's: He said that this condition is chosen by personalities who prefer to exit physical reality gradually. As aspects of awareness are lost to this reality, those portions of the personality are transferred bit-by-bit to other levels of existence. In my father's case, soon after he lost the ability to speak or communicate in any meaningful way, I had vivid dreams of him speaking clearly and attempting to convey important messages to me. It's reassuring to believe that if this is indeed my fate, "I" will not necessarily disappear, but rather, the world will gradually disappear to me.