05 April 2012
I lay no claim to being an oneirologist, one who engages in the scientific study of dreams. I am, however, continually fascinated by the dream world, where stunningly strange, creative, often surreal images and situations occur. Some dreams revisit us from time to time ~ I'll become aware during an elaborate sequence that I've dreamed this before, and continue to play out my part, with small variations.
A few of these recurrent dreams are associated with certain places which hold strong emotional power, such as the nature preserve in southern Arizona where I was a resident caretaker for four years. Invariably, I'm in the role of guardian, defending the natural setting from encroaching "developers", hunters, or other invaders. It's not a coincidence that this has been a theme in my adult waking life.
Other dreams are more whimsical. Take flying, for instance. I read somewhere that most people dream-fly in one of two fashions ~ either they swoop and soar effortlessly, gliding where whimsy takes them ~ or they manage to fly only by an effort of will, concentrating fiercely on resisting gravity.
During my younger adulthood, I was one of the latter dream fliers. But over the last decade or so, I seem to have evolved a third, original mode of flight. It started during dreams when I was running down a high hill. As the slope steepened, my strides became longer, until I was falling/gliding nearly parallel to the ground between steps. I sensed that eventually the slope would become so steep that I would have no way to touch the earth without crashing. Somehow, that abrupt end never came.
Over time my flying evolved into yet another form. I found that, from a standing position, I could jump straight up, land on crouched legs, and jump ever higher. From dream to dream my leaps became atmospheric ~ I could reach heights hundreds or even thousands of feet above the ground, hover, and land without injury. My skill developed over time until it took only one or two bounds upward to find myself looking down on the landscape and the tiny people below. Yet none of those people seemed aware of my ability.
Once in a great while, an act of genuine artistic creativity occurs during a dream. I've composed entire symphonic movements in my sleep, complete with full orchestral harmonies, and created lush and moving epic poems. During the dream I realize that this is world-class art, but of course it fades upon waking. If only we could somehow record our own dream imagery!
And then there are nightmares. They can be terrifying, or leave one crushed by grief. Upon waking, it can take a long time to emerge from that dark place. I wonder if one has to have known great pain or fear or sorrow in real life, for those feelings to be so intense in dreams?
The dreams I treasure most are those in which I meet a woman with whom there is an immediate, mutual recognition of attraction, comfort, and love. She may resemble someone I once loved, but more often she is a gentle, beautiful stranger, yet on a deep level familiar. Within moments we are touching, talking softly, being immersed in quiet passion. I don't mean sexual passion, though that awaits in the wings. Rather, we are lit from within by the glow of acceptance, of complete sharing. Each of us wants nothing more than to love the other. What could be finer? I awaken from those dreams not wanting them to end. I miss feeling as one with another, feeling admired, sought out, deeply loved.
From Wikipedia ~ "Dreams have been seen as a connection to the unconscious. They range from normal and ordinary to overly surreal and bizarre. Dreams can have varying natures, such as frightening, exciting, magical, melancholic, adventurous, or sexual. The events in dreams are generally outside the control of the dreamer, with the exception of lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is self-aware. Dreams can at times make a creative thought occur to the person or give a sense of inspiration."
So what about dreams in the other sense ~ our waking fantasies or ambitions? Like many people, for years I've had a list of things I want to accomplish in this life ~ conduct a major symphony orchestra, travel into space, kayak the Grand Canyon, learn to operate a backhoe, own another motorcycle, become fluent in six languages, take flight lessons (the aircraft kind of flight), spend time in Ireland, Kenya/Tanzania, New Zealand, France, Spain, Greece, the islands of the Caribbean and the South Pacific, on and on. At my age, I'll probably reach few of these goals. However, at my age I've already reached goals many can only imagine. It is important, it is crucial to remain true to the dream.