Dream Totem

In the movie Inception there’s this idea of totems, basically an object which you are so familiar with that you can use it easily tell if you’re in a dream or not. Or something like that, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie.

Recently I noticed something odd that always seems to happen whenever I try to look at an object I’m really familiar with in a dream, like my watch. It’s always broken. Like every time. I think what happens is that I try to look at it, my brain doesn’t fill in enough detail, my subconscious notices that it’s not right and jumps to the most logical conclusion which is that it must be broken.

After I realize my watch is broken, I keep inspecting it for way longer than I normally would to try to figure out what’s wrong with it. My dream has to quickly fill in the details with something which ends up being a bunch of dream nonsense. The hands twist into hard to recognize shapes, the numbers are unreadable, and the whole watchface flickers and color shifts like a broken TV.

A broken watch has become my way of telling whether I’m in a dream and I’m worried that if I ever do break my watch for real I’ll lose grip on what’s a dream and what’s reality.