Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Dreaming in the Past

We all dream; we do not understand our dreams, yet we act as if nothing strange goes on 
in our sleep minds, strange at least by comparison with the logical, purposeful 
doings of our minds when we are awake. 
Erich Fromm

Dream Catcher
Dreams are something all humans have in common. For many people dreams are premonitions. I knew a woman who regularly dreamed of seeing a deceased person. In the dream she never knew the person, but a few days later when she heard of someone who passed away, she could always connect that person to the dream in some way. For example, the body she saw was a big strong man, just like the man who just died. One time when three people passed away over a few days, she said, “Those are the three caskets I saw in my dream.” I can’t imagine waking regularly with morbid dreams lingering in my mind, and waiting for someone to die so I can let the dream go.

On the lighter side, but still peculiar: Years ago some people believed placing a piece of someone else' wedding cake under their pillow would prompt dreams of their future spouse. I know a lady who tried this and claimed she dreamed about some guy she knew. There was just one problem, the guy already had a wife,  so she refused to tell anybody who it was. That is, not until many years later. After Dream Guy was widowed, she actually married him. Would that fall under a strange or sweet dream? I'm not sure.

Some people claim one of the pieces they’d written were inspired by a dream. While with the Beatles, Paul McCartney woke up one morning with a lovely tune in his head. He sat down by a piano right away and started playing it. He later reflected. I liked the melody a lot, but because I'd dreamed it, I couldn't believe I'd written it. I thought, 'No, I've never written anything like this before.' But I had the tune, which was the most magic thing!" The tune McCartney was referring to was the Beatles 1965 hit, “Yesterday”. I wonder how many times he woke up looking for his next hit.

It must be nice to get something that’s been troubling you fixed with the help of a dream. In 1964, famous golfer, Jack Nicklaus credited a dream for saving his game: “Wednesday night I had a dream and it was about my golf swing. I was hitting them pretty good in the dream and all at once I realized I wasn’t holding the club the way I’ve actually been holding it lately.” At the time he was having trouble with holding his golf stick incorrectly, but was doing it perfectly in his sleep. So when he came to the course next morning he tried it the way he did it in his dream and it worked. This improved his golf swing considerably. 

Perhaps I’m not listening to my dreams closely enough, for none of my dreams have ever helped me fix anything. In biblical times people often received prophetic messages through dreams. Both Joseph and Pharaoh had dreams that came true. Pharaoh’s dream enabled him to prepare for the seven years of famine, which then paved the way for Joseph to be reunited with his family in Canaan, and save them from starvation. 

I once read an article by The Sleep Doctor, Michael J. Breus, in which he lists theories on what dreaming is. Not that I place a lot of stock in dreams, but I sometimes wonder about the things going on in my mind while I sleep. For that reason, one of Breus theories jumped out at me: ‘Dreaming is a form of consciousness that unites past, present and future in processing information from the first two, and preparing for the third.’ Since I don’t know of any modern day Joseph to help decipher my dreams, this explanation will have to do.

I find it very strange, in most of my dreams, I’m either in our old house, my grandparent’s old house, our old communal kitchen or in our old school. I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed about the new buildings that have long replaced the old ones. When I mentioned this to my sisters once, one of them responded with, “You’re living in the past.” Dreaming in the past, anyway. But why? Am I really processing information from the past and the present in preparation for the future? 

Strange, scary or sweet dreams - I'd love to hear your thoughts on what's going on in our minds while we sleep.

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