My new bedroom has a ceiling fan.
In the morning, murky light filters in through the cheap plastic blinds, and I’m groggy and without glasses. In these circumstances, the five-bladed fan resembles nothing so much as a giant asterisk hovering above me. It takes a moment to remember it’s just a fan.
That moment isn’t scary, really. I have no fear that the giant asterisk means me harm or can hurt me.
In that first second of consciousness, though, my eyes dart around the gloom looking for context. I wonder if I’m at the jumping-off point or the footnote. I wonder if the asterisk is merely pausing in a search for its proper home — perhaps a billboard somewhere where it will tell people mileage may vary or no purchase is necessary to win.
When I stand up the fan returns to three dimensions and the illusion is gone. When I lie down to sleep, it returns.
If I were a more poetic sort, I would see the asterisk as signifying my waking life as an extended explanation of my dreams and my dreams as a somewhat briefer explanation of my waking life.
But it’s really just a fan.