One of the yin-yangs of hormone fluctuation is sleep, or lack of it. Between hot flashes and finding a comfortable position, my REM’s make rare visits, leaving my consciousness floating in the bubbles of semi-sleep through the world of dreams. Now, many people say they don’t dream; others leave a notepad on their nightstand so they can record the ching chang jumble that comes out in the middle of the night. I believe we all dream, but length, depth and retaining capacity is what makes everyone’s claim different.
Scientists and talk show hosts tell us our lives are influenced by anything and everything, and our dreams are one way of dealing with all of it. Dreams, and their alter ego, nightmares, can result from everything from eating pizza before bed to an argument earlier in the day. Dreams can be triggered by stress, anticipation, having too much time on your hands or, more likely, not enough. Scary movies, sappy movies, long distance phone calls — everything can leave a chip in your mind that can explode into a myriad of dreamy scenarios.
The great thing about this flight through those shadowed clouds, though, is the variety of experiences it presents. I doubt my conscious mind could make up half the things my subconscious does. And if it could, would it be as fun?
In my dreams I interact with bosses from 20 years ago and talk to family members who are no longer with me. I wander the halls of my grade school, look out on Lake Michigan from a high-rise balcony, and walk through castles of long ago. I have driven off cliffs and been chased by unseen dragony/monster things. I have stood in a shadowy alley talking to Edward Norton and had coffee with Kiefer Sutherland.
Where in Jove’s name do we get these ideas from?
Being a writer, I often bring some of the unearthliness of my subconscious and put it into forms that entertain me and others. Without analyzing every laugh and tear, I try to bring these esoteric beings into my writing. The more nonsensical, the better. Other people transform their dreams into paintings, gardens, photography, and card making.
Of course, the down side of dreams is that they don’t always give you a direct answer to your cosmic questions. It is fairly obvious that when I dream of my son as a toddler rather than a college kid, I am searching for the olden days connection we had when I was omnipotent and he was subservient. When I am wandering through corridors and cross loading docks and down long hallways filled with shops and warehouses and theaters I am lost in more ways than I care to admit.
But instead of interpreting these dreams as portents of bad things to come, I would rather see them as insights to the possibilities that lie ahead. We have the ability to choose which meanings we take to heart and which we toss out.
The best course is always to take a little of both. Don’t ignore the clouds that are really thunderheads, and don’t get the idea of stepping out of a plane to bounce on their springy tops. But also let those clouds be dragons or snakes or baby diapers. Nod at the thread of reality that runs through the middle, then make what you will of the rest.
Don’t worry what others think your dreams mean, or if you can’t remember their endings. The old adage that it’s the journey that counts, not the destination, is just as true in your conscious state of mind as in your conscious one. Don’t read more into your dreams than what is there. And create whatever you want from them.
As for me, I’m looking forward to tonight. I told Kiefer I’d meet him at the coffee shop sometime around eleven. Maybe I’ll even ride my dragon there.