Monday, August 5, 2013

The Dream Experiment

What are dreams? Messages from our subconscious? Firings of the electrons in our brains? Promptings from God?

There are several scriptural accounts in The Bible. Joseph of the coat of many colors interrupted them. Joseph, husband to Mary, was warned to flee to Egypt in a dream. The prophet Joel tells us:
¶Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.
¶And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.
Joel 21 & 28

Psychologists have differing theories. Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are a window into our unconscious. Shakespeare liked to dream. (He wrote about sleep A LOT.)
—make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I wak’d
I cried to dream again.
The Tempest (3.2.96-104)

I’m not a Shakespeare, Freud, or a oneirologist (a scientist who studies dreams) but I do dream and for the month of August I’m going to record my dreams. (Anyone want to join me?) 

Two correlated dreams on two separate nights prompted my experiment. After some stewing, I decided that the dreams held very practical, useful lessons, and if those two dreams were worth remembering and applying—what about all the other nightly dreams that I typically promptly forget? 

In the first dream, I was watching a mother and a child. The child wore a darling red dress and a black wool hat. The mother, dressed in a fuzzy pink sweater, had the child pressed against her and was picking microscopic pieces of lint off the red dress. I noticed that because the mom was so busy nit-picking the non-linty dress, she couldn't see that her pink sweater had left fuzz all over the black wool hat. I stood nearby, laughing hysterically. (Rude, I know.) I thought about this for a couple of days, because I’m not a smother-type mother (just ask any of my children) and my children are grown. I couldn't hold any of them pressed against my sweater if I wanted to—only one is actually shorter than me, although she adamantly denies this, no matter what a yard stick may have to say about it. I decided that the child was a book, the mom in the sweater was a writer or a publisher and the reason I stood by laughing (again, rude) was because I discovered that as a self published author I can produce a book in a fraction of the time as a publishing house.

In the second dream I’m frantically looking for a lost child. The child has the same name as a senior citizen I know. After fruitless searching, it occurs to me that the reason I can’t find the child is because he doesn't exist. After waking and some thinking, I decided that the child is my online presence and the reason I couldn't find him is because he is so tiny in such a vast universe. This could also be said for my books. To sell my books, I need a bigger online presence.

I have always loved a good sleep, but since starting my experiment, I’m excited to discover what I’ll learn each night. Maybe I’ll even have to take up napping.

Tips for dream experimenting:
Keep a pen and a notebook beside your bed so that you can write down your dreams as soon as you wake.

Avoid chocolate and caffeine—they interrupt sleep.

Try to get a good night’s sleep.

Get familiar with several online dream dictionaries (which may or may not be valid—just google the meanings of dreams).

Sleep well.

A Dream Within a Dream
  by Edgar Allan Poe        
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow:
You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand--
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep--while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I wake up remembering a whopper of a dream. I'm always wishing I had a notebook close by and time to record them. Random dreams could make good novels.