I’ve always thought the best invention ever would be some sort of video recorder turned inward that would record our dreams and we could then replay them awake like movies. Endless entertainment, right?
Whether happy or foreboding, my dreams are always vivid, in glorious Technicolor, cast of thousands, complex plots. In last night’s “show” I was heading for a huge field for a yoga class, and the sunlit path was full of gorgeous flowers. I commented to the woman I was walking with that while they were all beautiful, I could leave the orangey ones but had to pick a few of the vivid pink ones after class. I turned to someone else as we lay on the ground to begin yoga and said in awe, “The grass has never been this soft!” I still remember its lush green and amazing thick softness. This all seemed very profound when I woke up, and I grasped for the meaning, but maybe it was just a happy dream about a soft landing after leaving some stressful weeks behind me in the “real world.”
In his book Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, Gregg Levoy says, “Dreams are a force to be reckoned with, so it’s no wonder people sleep through them.” There are a lot of dreams they say everyone has. Like the ones where you’re walking around naked or topless in public, distressed to be caught this way, but no one is even noticing. Then there are the endless permutations on the “can’t find your way” theme. That plays itself out in two ways in my recurring dreams. One is that I’m a college student wandering around campus and don’t have a copy of my class schedule and can’t find out where to get one, or find myself at the end of a semester still not knowing what books I was supposed to have read and about to be caught at final exam time and fail. The other is that I’m in a house with endless rooms I keep discovering, and I’m so excited, I know there’s a special room or wing or floor I’m trying to get to, but I just can’t find the right hallway or staircase. These are easy and endless fodder for amateur analysis.
When I was younger, the dreams I remembered were often recurring nightmares. One—again a universal one, I’ve heard—was that I was a small orb being chased around and around by a larger one, threatening to crush me. I think what I was experiencing, waking screaming some nights, almost unable to make the transition back to wakefulness, were what are now called “night terrors,” but back then were just called “why Mom & Dad were half asleep at work the next day.” In my teens and 20s I don’t remember remembering my dreams, probably because my conscious days and nights were so much fun they beat out the subconscious competition. Then in my 30s were dreams not well remembered due to sleep not well gotten (a time called early motherhood). Later dreams became a way to process daytime unpleasantness, whether it was conflicts at work or the disillusion of my marriage, very often variations on a theme, repeating themselves like hammers knocking me over the head till I figured things out or got closure.
I know sometimes I act out valiant struggles in my dreams. I know I sometimes take my anger or fear to bed with me, and of course how can they help but turn up in my dreams. People from my past, the good, the bad and the ugly, make guest appearances. As themselves, as far as I know, but heck, maybe as vegetables or chickens. The occasional lover, or perhaps “the one who got away,” comes for a tantalizing visit but the passion is almost never consummated. (Kind of like how they say when you fall off a cliff in a dream you’ll always wake up before you crash.)
Perhaps my favorite whacky dream of late was one where my mother (82 in the dream and in real life, mind you) lived in a tree house. She seemed permanently stationed in a sort of study, many hundreds of feet up a huge tree, where she sat at a writing desk enjoying the view of the woods and woodland creatures. This, however, was not the weird part of the dream. No, the weird part was that in order to reach her, I had to pass through a hole in the tree, a foot or two around, that was filled with mashed bananas. My therapist and I will no doubt be working on this one for years to come.
So, dear readers, what’s turning up in your sleep these days? Please use the Comment function below to tell all!