Monday, March 12, 2007

Dream The Impossible Dream

I have never believed that my dreams meant anything at all.

I am a daydreamer, and have spent untold hours in thought, imagination, contemplating new things I have learned in math, physics, or simply trying to think of new ways to attack problems at work. Trying to grasp and understand big spiritual ideas from the Bible.

I believe that our imagination is an amazing thing, most of the time.

But assigning import to my dreams, as in dreaming at night while asleep, well, even from childhood I had a huge disregard for them.

It intrigues me that people believe their nightly dreams mean something. I've just never felt that way.

My dreams might have me in the most vivid and real looking world, where, for example I may be rich, or simply buying a new car, or a new camera.

When I wake up, I have never once thought, "Maybe that means I'm going to inherit some money!" or, "It's a sign that I should buy that new car!".

Not once.

Because without exception, even my most impressive, realistic dreams have always had elements that let the air out of my balloon.

For example, as I buy a car in my dreams, I'm usually buying it from Dracula, with the white face and high-collared black cape, a la Bela Lugosi. Or something equally stupid.

Kinda puts a damper on the whole, "Maybe it was a sign from God!" reaction.

I once dreamt that I was riding an escalator down to the ocean, and as I neared the water, I got caught in the folding steps, was ground up into atoms, and yet still retained my sight and thought processes.

I was one with the water, and whales and dolphins and stingrays were swimming all around in such amazing color as I have never seen in real life.

When I woke from that one, I was still entranced, extremely deep in awe of the feeling of being part of the ocean on an atomic level.

I can still feel some of the awe just remembering it. It was an incredible experience.

But as much as I've thought of that dream, and even tried my hand at determining some "meaning" from it for my life, I have come up blank. Every time.

And one night a few years ago, I had a dream of walking down a hallway. Like at an old school or something. Heavy wooden doors and door frames. Incredible wide-plank wooden floors. A beautiful old building, only I was inside.

Room after room after room, every door closed, along this hallway I was walking down.

I was completely alone.

I decided to walk up to one door, and it had a small placard on it, "MATH".

I opened the door, remember this is my dream, and it was a large room, say, 50 feet by 50 feet.

There were no desks or any other furniture in what I though in the dream was a classroom. The room was filled with mobiles hanging from the ceiling.

You know, like the things that were popular in the 70s, or with little fluffy stuffed animals hanging in an arrangement over a baby's crib?

Each mobile was complex, and shaped like a family tree diagram, one or two white placards at the top and expanding toward the floor were many many more under each "beginning." On each placard were formulas and mnemonic devices for memorizing and being able to work any and all math problems I could possibly ever want to solve or use.

In the dream, it occurred to me that I could set up a similar hallway of rooms in my mind, each room consisting of a different subject that interested me, and that once filled, all I had to do to remember any thought, remember any tidbit of data, was to mentally enter the correct room, walk to the appropriate mobile covering that topic, and mentally work from top to bottom of the mobile to accomplish whatever task was on my plate at the time.

I walked out of the room and continued down the hall, mind reeling from the massive paradigm shift I was having in this dream, and adding to it by realizing that I could always create more rooms, build more mobiles to hang to enable myself to accomplish any task, to remember the most esoteric bit of data...

In the dream I was excited. THIS was important stuff! In the dream, it was as if I were planning how to use this information when I woke up. Haven't had many dreams in which I knew I was dreaming and made plans for when I woke up.

It was about here that I awoke. I felt for a while that I had finally had a dream that was going to be an important turning point in my life. I was still in the exact same feeling of awe as in the dream, but it wasn't long before my awakened mind began to poke holes in the fabric of the dream.

Before the days end, I realized there was little practical, everyday use for the hallway and rooms, well, actually I could still see the possibilities of this way of storing and recalling things, but in practice, it hasn't quite worked out as perfectly as in the dream.


I've had a life-long fascination with memory, and am always looking for ways to improve mine. A photographic memory would be fantastic, but I don't have one.

I guess there's really not a point I'm trying to make here. I just know that there are books on dreams and how to interpret them, but I've always felt that, regardless how meaningful parts of a dream might seem, Dracula as a car salesman kinda ruins the dream's credibility as a meaningful way to inform me of something in my life.

Being in beautiful wilderness in a dream could mean that I'm supposed to move to mountain country, but that the dream might also also have me with a talking hippopotamus; kind of puts the skids to taking that serious, you know? To me at least.

And in the Bible, several important changes for God's followers pivoted on someone's dreams and another's ability to interpret those dreams, so I'm not saying it isn't possible to be given direction in a dream.

I've just never felt that my dreams were nothing other than my brain exercising and doing back flips to keep agile.

I sure wish I could get that one with the rooms and the memory retention and complex idea understanding helps to work for me in real life, though. That would be some kind of useful in my world.


Hammer said...

Scientists say that dreams are a necessary means for the brain to take day to day information and file it into long term memory.

While this is happening our asleep mind is watching a twisted interpretation of our lifes events.

And dracula selling you a car is probably accurate if you look at the moral character of most car salesmen.

Mags said...

I think it's amazing that in your dream you were thinking about how you'd use the info in your awake life.

That's fascinating.

I never really remember my dreams, and when I do, they are usually the bad dreams and I wake up feeling empty and sad. I like your idea that it's just my brain excersizing and not a sign...however, I do kind of believe that there is a reason for the dreams.

I've just never tried to figure it out.

Emily said...

Dreams are pretty cool, I'd say. I had one not too long ago, actually, where I hadn't paid a fine for riding the c-train without a ticket. So they called me down to the station and they told me I was going to have to go to jail. I was like, "But my parents don't evn know I even got the ticket, and now all the sudden I'm in jail for three months!"

Except it was sort of this youth center that helped misguided kids instead of an actual jail. I was crying in my dream because it felt so real, lol! And then I woke up and was really relieved =P

I don't think dreams mean anything least I hope not. =P

JAM said...

Everyone, thanks for your comments. I wrote this, and debated hard on whether or not to post it. Most people hate hearing other people's dreams, unless they have funny ones, then I like it, so I thought this would be too boring for anyone to read through.

I always felt that my brain got to have it's own fun when I slept. Heck, science can't tell us what sleep is, much less interpret dreams, so I don't worry about them.

I have some doozies though.

Hammer, you might be right about Dracula. It never occurred to me to make that connection.

Mags, there very well may be a reason for the dreams, but mine are so kooky that I've just never felt that anything meaningful could be interpreted from them.

Emily, I've had dreams with that same I'm-in-a-fix-and-nobody-knows-where-I-am panic. I call those frustration dreams, as in maybe my mind is working out some of the day's frustrations.