“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream…” Edgar Allen Poe.
I love that line. Good old Eddie was quite the writer, don’t you think? A little morbid, but he sure knew what he was talking about. Don’t you get that feeling some time? Like your life isn’t really real? That maybe you’ll wake up and realize, “It was all just a dream.” What if that really happened to you? Would you be happy to leave the dream and start fresh, or would you feel sad and lost? I’d be sad. Don’t get me wrong, there were, and still are, times when I would’ve preferred to walk away from what was going on in my life. But not right at this moment, even though it’s pouring freezing rain outside and I’m expecting the electricity to go out any second now.
I’m a dreamer myself. I have a lot of dreams – both kinds, conscious and unconscious. When I’m awake my mind never stops spinning with alternate realities…made-up conversations where I am quick and clever, fantasies of saving people or winning the lottery and giving the money to those who really need it (like myself), of becoming successful so I can buy my own castle (yes, I know I’ve mentioned this a few times in other blogs, but I really want a castle, people!). I love my waking dreams. I think that if I were to stop dreaming them, I’d have to be dead.
The dreams keep going at night when I’m sleeping, but they get wackier. I’ve heard some people say that they don’t dream. I think they’re really deep sleepers and just don’t remember what they’ve dreamt. I’ll bet they have a whole world going on inside their head and they don’t even know about it! I happen to be one of those people who sleeps lightly so I get to enter that hidden world all throughout the night. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it isn’t.
There are many theories out there about why we dream. One theory says that our dreams are random and unrelated to our lives – they’re just brain synapses firing in different areas of your memory. That’s why dreams, these theorists have postulated, can seem so disjointed, jumping from one thing to the next without logical sequence. Well, I’m here to go on record that I totally don’t buy into this theory. I prefer the much more interesting symbolism theory of dreams – totally unscientific of me, I know, but I don’t care. I have found again and again that what I dream about is nearly always related to what is going on in my life at the moment.
When I am stressed out, I have this awful recurring dream. I dream that I’m back in school again. It might be that I didn’t take a certain class, or I just haven’t yet graduated. The problem is, as I enter the dream I come to realize that I haven’t been going to any of my classes all semester or taking any of the tests. I’m totally failing, but it’s too late to drop the class. Being a bit of an overachiever, I spend the rest of the night trying to rectify the situation. It is my own personal nightmare. One time, I even dreamed that I was back in Kindergarten, but still my current age. Egad. Sitting at those desks was murder on the hips and knees and I just had this feeling like I didn’t belong, that there was something very wrong with this situation.
Well, eventually, I realized what it was. After sitting in that tiny chair and working on my stupid coloring exercise (I hated coloring when I was 5 and I still do), I said, “Hey! I already graduated. I’m outta here!” Of course, now my next dream will be about them taking my diplomas away because I defied them, or maybe because I danced the funky chicken while dressed like one when I was a sophomore in college.
The good thing about these anxiety dreams is that I have learned to take some control in them. I’m not always successful at becoming aware while in my dream and making a change, but I’m getting better at it. The interesting part is that I am starting to do the same thing in real life – becoming aware of the problem and taking control, that is (not the funky chicken while dressed as one, though that would certainly be fun to try).
Depsite the bad dreams, I still like dreaming because I have great dreams, too. My flying dreams are my favorite. Well, actually, it’s more like jumping high into the air and doing flips before landing smoothly and with great agility (there are no chickens in this dream). If I can’t do it in real life, I shall do it in my dreams. I think these dreams have inspired some of what I’ve written about in Anaedor, where the characters can do things most of us only wish we could do. It’s a very powerful thing to be able to turn your dreams into something concrete, even if it is only the written word.
My husband has dreams where his dad (who passed away) tells him what to do, what directions to take in life. He isn’t bossy about it – he never was in life – just wise and gentle. One time my husband had a dream that saved his life. Seriously. He saw his own death, when it was going to be (in 2 days), and what was going to happen (he was going to plug in a huge printer that can only be plugged in when the power is off, but it wasn’t and he was electrocuted and died an awful, horrible death). On the day of his supposed death, he went to work (I ordered him not to plug anything in) and about halfway through the day, his dream kicked in. He actually started living his dream. It started simply enough. His co-worker asked, “Will you plug in that printer?” And my husband, of course, said, “What did you just say?” Because he was experiencing major deja vu at this point. The guy repeated himself and my husband told him, “I can’t. It’s live.” The guy denied it, but my husband stayed firm and refused to give in – I think I might have been dead by then, sometimes I can be such a sheep. Finally they tracked down a service guy who could go check on the power. Sure enough, the power was on. Someone had tested the printer the day before and forgotten to shut the power off. Spooky, huh? Needless to say, once the power was off, my husband made sure he was the one to plug in the printer – he figured he had to to break the cycle and end the curse…or something like that.
Okay, this blog ended up a lot longer than I’d planned. But dreams fascinate me and I just couldn’t help myself. I’ll leave you with this thought, then: If our lives are but dreams within dreams…who’s doing the dreaming?