Sunday, 28 April 2019

Dreams and Dreaming

Photo courtesy of Flickr
Ozge Bostan Ozutok

I don’t know if you’re aware of It is run by Maria Popova, a reader and writer, whose intent is.  ‘ ….inquiry into what it means to live a decent, substantive, rewarding life.’ There was an interesting article on dreams today on social media - if you wish to read.  It got me thinking especially as I have been sorting through my mountain of writings and trying to find some kind of order for them. I came across a piece I had written in 1983 (!) about dreams and it has prompted me to try and crystallize my thoughts.

I dream a lot. If I sleep, that is!! But I reckon that whenever I sleep I dream. I don’t always remember the specific details and subject matter of what I dream but I know when I wake that I’ve dreamt. Sometimes it bothers me that I dream so much when so many people swear they never dream at all. But sometimes it makes me feel proud that I dream so much.

There has been much written on the subject of dreams and I freely admit that my research has been sparse because I might just discover something unpleasant about the whys and wherefores of dreaming and I don’t want to spoil my experiences.

I always dream in colour and I know there are people who dream in black and white. Sometimes I know what kind of dream I’m going to have. For example if I sleep on my back I’ll have a bad dream, a death dream where someone close to me, usually my family, dies in strange circumstances that frequently I could be instrumental in avoiding. Naturally these dreams bother me so I don’t relish them. However sleeping on my back is not really an option these days because of my spinal condition. If I eat the wrong kind of food too soon before bedtime, spicy food, cheese etc I’ll have a ‘bad situation’ dream. They’re not death dreams but things are not clear, people and places are hazy and I feel alone and vulnerable. I wake up feeling threatened and anxious. I’ve never been able to return to the same dream if I wake from it although I have heard of others who can do that. I really wish I could!! 

Some dream have a logical, progressive story line, enjoyable, easy to record on waking. Others are bizarre juxtapositions of people and locations that I clearly remember but struggle to write down.

Many dreams show my pattern of thought at the time when I dropped off to sleep and demonstrate the fears and anxieties I was experiencing. Some turn out to be a kind of catharsis for things that happen. I remember well the dream I had a few days after a beloved 21 year old cat died. In the dream I was returning home from an unspecified outing and Peter, the cat, was there on the front porch. He miaowed to come inside with me but I turned to him and said, ‘You can’t come in, you’re dead.’ On waking I was upset, reproaching myself for the insensitivity of the utterance but on reflection it may have been my subconscious accepting that he was gone.

Other dreams initially seem to bear no relation whatsoever within any frame of reference or experience. I will relate one such dream of many years ago. I was still living with my parents and I had come downstairs to eat breakfast. 
Photo courtesy Flickr

When I entered the kitchen I found it empty except for a huge green grasshopper. He must have been about four feet high, a brilliant, translucent green, extremely attractive in conducive  circumstances but I felt nothing but fear and revulsion. I sought my mother and sister to warn them of my discovery. But they were non plussed and surprised at MY reaction! It appears he was known to them and even had a name. (I believe it was George or something similar.) We all went into the kitchen where the grasshopper greeted both of them with obvious affection and familiarity whereas I found him aggressive. At that time this seemed an illogical dream that I could determine no stimulus for. However that was before I discovered Kafka and read Metamorphosis. Was the dream somehow prophetic? Was I the grasshopper?

Another category of dreams revolve around simple tasks that must be performed.   Like rising in the morning. On may occasions I have dreamt that I have got up and dressed only to be amazed when the alarm went off and woke me from the dream to find I had to go through the whole process again! Another time I dreamt that I woke up feeling very thirsty and rapidly emptied the beaker of water I kept by my bedside. So vivid was this dream that when I did actually wake up thirsty I didn’t bother to reach for the beaker because I believed It was empty. Only later did I find the beaker still full of water!

Photo courtesy Flickr
QT Vuo

I could not say for certain I have recurring dreams. Many times I have woken from a dream feeling familiarity. But I try to write down as many dreams as I remember and I cannot find an example of the ‘same’ dream. Recurring themes and locations, yes. As a child I believed I had a recurring dream about a kissing dragon. The house we lived in had a hatch from the dining room to the kitchen and I dreamed a multicoloured  dragon was pulling me though the hatch while my mum tried to save me and pull me back but all the dragon wanted to do was kiss me affectionately! I think I had this dream twice.

But most of the time nowadays I love dreaming! It means I’ve been asleep which is uplifting for an insomniac. And in my dreams I am me again! The physical me; I can run, swim, cycle and more ! All the things I did with ease before the menopause and old age obscured me.  I dream about my parents and they’re both fine in the dreams, just as they were when living. Some dreams, though, are unsettling and bewildering and I think indicate my lack of self belief and insecurity. Frequent dreams of being deserted in remote locations and having to find my way back alone! Some though are quite exciting! ;-)

I have no explanation as to why I dream so often. It is a paradox considering I sleep so little. But maybe that’s why? I also have a fertile imagination and an over sensitive disposition and maybe these combine to help my subconscious deal with situations? Sometimes my dream life is busier than my real life! 

Thanks for reading. 

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