Friday, March 24, 2006

These Dreams

A couple of days ago Andrea at Hula Seventy posted a fascinating blog entry about her dreams and she asked some questions of other dreamers: "do you dream most nights? do you dream in black and white? or color? do you have nightmares? do you have recurring dreams? do you remember your dreams? do you write them down?" I started to comment but my reply was getting so long I decided to talk a little about dreams here instead. If the topic of dreams and dreaming interests you as much as it does me, great...Read on! If not, my daily photo Thang is at the bottom of the post and you're welcome to scroll down and try for another topic tomorrow. So...Do I dream? Hell yeah. I dream every night. I quite often remember my dreams - well at least fragments of them, for a little while, although dreams I remember more completely are more rare. But even when I don't remember the content of my dreams, I remember that I dreamed. (If there's a dream I really want to remember I'll write it down, but otherwise I don't bother. I just let the memories gradually fade.) That makes me the opposite of my husband who claims he "never" dreams. I don't actually believe that (although I believe HE believes it!). I think everyone dreams, but it's true that he almost never remembers dreaming and on the rare occasions when he does, his version of remembering a dream will go something like "I went fishing", while my version of remembering a dream is usually some long, bizarre story told in excruciating detail. I guess that shouldn't surprise me though, considering that we're opposites in nearly everything. So why wouldn't we be opposites in our dream lives too! In her post, Andrea mentioned having a dream that seemed so real that she woke up thinking it had really happened in her waking life and being disappointed to realize it wasn't true. I've done that too! The places I go and things I do when I sleep often seem as real to me as anything that happens when I'm awake. In fact, one of the things that happens to me sometimes (and that J finds utterly baffling) is that I'll be asleep for 7 or 8 hours and wake up completely exhausted because I've been so damn BUSY in my head all night long. Sometimes I have grand adventures. Those dreams are usually just really fun! Sometimes I work through things that are bothering me with stress dreams that get very strange and even scary, although I seldom have what I would call a flat-out nightmare these days. That's what last night was like, as I had a very complex dream involving being chased through a maze, in what started out as a playful game almost like hide-n-seek, but then turned more serious, and eventually I was dreaming about one of those "post-apocalyptic" sort of scenarios where something had gone very, very wrong on the earth and I was part of a small group, holed up in a big old rambling house and literally fighting for survival. And then sometimes in my dreams I do very ordinary things, not so different from what I do when I'm awake. I've frequently had chats with loved ones who have died in what I think of as my "everyday" sort of dreams, and when I do, that's pretty much it...the whole dream...just hanging out someplace ordinary and familiar and talking with someone I've lost. Sometimes even those dreams can take a strange turn, like just after my father-in-law died. On the night before his funeral I dreamed I was in his living room, sitting in a chair by the door. Sonny (my FIL) was in his favorite chair a few feet away, wearing his usual faded blue work pants, white t-shirt, and corduroy house slippers, smoking those stinky roll-your-own cigarettes he loved so much, shedding sparks all over himself and making pinhole burns in that t-shirt. He was talking to me about how annoyed he was at all the "fuss" people were making over his death. As I recall he said gruffly that he thought the whole family should "stop wasting so damn much time and just stick him in the ground". That wasn't the weird part though. That would have been a totally normal conversation for Sonny and me. The weird part was when I was telling that dream to J and a couple of his family members the next day and J's 20-something nephew got pale and freaked-out-looking and said he dreamed exactly the same thing the night before, except that in his version of the dream he (the nephew) was stretched out on the couch while Sonny sat in his favorite chair and smoked and complained. Cue the Twilight Zone music. Or there was the time I had a dream where I was having a passionate discussion with someone and we were speaking Italian. Which would be normal if I spoke Italian, but I don't. In the dream I understood everything, though, until suddenly I realized I was dreaming and thought "hey, wait a minute...I don't speak Italian!". As soon as that thought crossed my mind I didn't understand anything anymore and I woke up. It wasn't until after I'd been awake for a few minutes that I realized the other strange thing - there'd been no visual component to the dream at all. It was all just sounds and smells and feelings. It wasn't even like I could say "everything was black" because while the dream was happening, that dream-self wouldn't have understood the concept of "black". In that dream, I was completely blind and it seemed so normal to me that it didn't even register while I was in it. Pretty weird, huh? Andrea asked about recurring dreams. I had a recurring nightmare for many, MANY years as a child, one that would make me wake up in a cold sweat, afraid to go back to sleep. I was so glad when I finally stopped having that stupid dream! These days I no longer have recurring dreams, although I have some recurring themes within my dreams...a subtle distinction, but a real one. I occasionally, VERY rarely, have lucid dreams, where I realize a dream is a dream and start controlling some of the action. That can be fun! I once taught myself to fly in a lucid dream and ever since I'll occasionally fly in my dreams. And about the color dreams vs. black-and-white, except for the one-time thing I refer to as "the Italian Dream", I always dream in color. I don't even get why someone would dream in B/W unless they had a visual impairment, since real life is full of color, but I've been assured that people sometimes do. The mind is a strange, wonderful, terrifying, fascinating place, yes? What about you? What goes on in your dreams? "Darkness on the edge Shadows where I stand I search for the time On a watch with no hands I want to see you clearly Come closer than this But all I remember Are the dreams in the mist These dreams go on when I close my eyes Every second of the night I live another life These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside Every moment I'm awake the further I'm away" -----"These Dreams" by Heart "Shadows Where I Stand"