When the boy asks his father how one can know one's waking life isn't really a dream, the father replies, if everyone were really inside a dream, no one wud go around asking if it's a dream.
And I suppose it is true! All my own dreams are exceedingly vivid and I most certainly believe they're really happening while I'm still in them, to the extent that I sometimes forget what happened in my dream and what happened when I was awake yesterday. I remember asking Shaivi why she kicked my foot under the table yesterday, only to horribly realise a split-second later that that was probably a dream I had. I think it's incidents like this one that contribute significantly to why a lot of people in my college think I've got a "couple of loose screws" somewhere in my head.
I wish there were a profound exploration of the mind's dreamscape that I cud refer to and take comfort in. But The Interpretation of Dreams did not hold my concentration for long, and Inception, which I kept hoping wud grab my attention and jolt my mind, leaving me gobsmacked, was unintentionally funny in a lot of places.
The idea behind it, I must admit, was unique, getting lost in a dream and forgetting that you're dreaming. Or rather, never realising that you left reality, raises interesting questions about the nature of reality and how our minds work to tell the difference in real time.
Another interesting thought was held up by the writers of a segment of The Animatrix. They claimed, "To an artificial mind, the real world and the virtual worlds are impossibly difficult to tell apart." This was shouted out, of course, while plugging a struggling robot into the matrix, so the profound overtones were somewhat lost in the heat of the moment.
I find it fascinating, that so many people in the world, independently, arrive at the same question. How to tell if one is not dreaming up one's whole life? But I think I have another answer to this question.
Have you ever noticed that in dream time, a lot of things tend to happen at rather breakneck speeds, if my afternoon one-hour-long siestas are anything to go by. Life, on the other hand, tends to move reaaaaalllllly slowly at times, especially in the forbiddingly long minutes one spends waiting when one wud rather not.
I think the best way to know that life isn't a dream is simply to come to terms with how boring some parts of it are. Dreams, at least my dreams, are never, never dull. :D