In Cynthia Rylant's wonderful picture book MOTOR MOUSE--illustrated by Arthur Howard, whose work on Rylant's Mister Putter and Tabby series I love--Motor Mouse has a pocket watch that tells, not only the time and if it's sunny or rainy, but also whether you are dreaming or you are experiencing something that is really happening.
I need such a watch.
Last night I had an anxiety dream, one of those ultra-realistic ones that you think is reality, about my old job in the corporate world. In this dream I had a Big and Important project due very soon, but not only had I not started the project, I felt totally unqualified to do it at all--and powerless (in that dream-like way of being literally unable to do something) to tell my bosses--who were busy telling me how important the project was, and how they just knew that I would do a great job--that I couldn't do it and hadn't even started. It would have been a great comfort to me to have been able to whip out my pocket watch and see the little hand pointing to "dreaming," instead of thinking it was really happening and waking up at 5:15 a.m. in a panic.
(And if you're thinking, "But in the dream, the watch would have said 'really happening'"--No, if the watch really worked, it would have to say "dreaming" if I was dreaming. The watch is greater than any anxiety dream.) (Except that, yes, the watch is not real and anxiety dreams are. Dangit!)