Friday, January 7, 2011

Dream a little dream of me

I’ve always been a bit fascinated by dreams. They can be so real, and yet, so bizarre at the very same time. Even more than the content of a dream, though, I’m fascinated by the profound impact they can have on your feelings. I can wake up from a bad dream and feel a huge sense of relief and still feel anxious in the back of my mind all day because of it.

I’m fascinated by the strange places deep within our subconscious that our dreams come from. They can sometimes be so obvious and other times come out of nowhere. It’s strange how both big and small things from our daily lives—interactions we had that day, material we’ve read, issues we have on our mind—manifest themselves in unique ways while we sleep.

For example, I have a recurring dream where my teeth fall out. It’s not always the same dream, but it always ends with my teeth somehow crumbling into pieces or casually falling from my mouth. I have no idea what it means or where it comes from, yet it keeps coming back to haunt me. Maybe it’s my subconscious bringing to light the guilt I feel for flossing far less than I should? My dentist would be proud.

Sean never remembers his dreams. It’s a rare occasion when he can recall the topic, much less a whole story. I wake up in the morning (or in the middle of the night) and always remember at least one dream (or a topic from it, at minimum). And dreams have always had the ability to influence my mood or feelings in significant ways. When I dream about sad things—like loved ones who have died—I wake up with an ache in the pit of my stomach.

Just last night I dreamt that the Packers made the Super Bowl, we scored tickets, and then saw Sean’s dad outside the stadium. We were all so happy to see each other. He told us he missed us. We all wondered if we could hug him, or if it was only a ghost and he would disappear. It was so real—I could hear his voice and remember him as though he was really standing in front of me. I woke up feeling so happy to have seen him, yet so sad to have to remember—as though I was learning it for the first time—that he isn’t here with us. It was bittersweet. And here I am almost a full work day away from this dream and I can still feel the emotions swirling through me as though I just woke up. That’s what blows me away—the power of something my mind creates all on its own.

Dreams (at least the good ones) allow us to live in a world where, for just a minute, your deepest sadness is gone. Your hopes and goals and plans all come true. You’re invincible. You do things you never thought possible.

I suppose in some cheesy and cliché way it’s how we should be living our lives anyway—with optimism and determination, as though anything is possible. The sad truth is that life doesn’t always work that way. In fact, it seems that it rarely does. And dreams can be so wildly inconsistent that we can hardly start relying on them to guide our day-to-day life. And really, maybe they’re nothing more than an opportunity to feel something that you want or need to feel. We have so little control over some things, and maybe we just deserve to see things work out every once in a while.

But now I’ve rambled on and still haven’t come to any real point or conclusion about dreams. I really wasn’t aiming for one in the first place, more just reflecting on my own experiences.

I guess my point is this: As rationale human beings we spend much of our time thinking about what goes on in life, organizing it into sections, labeling our experiences, and trying to make sense of everything. And then we go to sleep. Our mind—overflowing with information—takes on a life of its own. Sometimes those dreams are nothing more than strange collaborations of the many thoughts crowding your head. And sometimes they can reveal how you really feel about something. There’s no rhyme or reason to them. No profound message we should be looking for. But we also shouldn’t be afraid to reflect on them or talk about them from time to time. Because when I can spend an entire day with my stomach in knots over a dream, I can hardly deny the power they can have either.

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