Friday, March 09, 2007

Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On

I had a really bad dream last night, the gist of which was that I was trapped in an enclosed space with bloodthirsty dogs snapping at my face; as you might expect, I don't feel particularly well rested after that. But, at least it gave me something to blog about: my dreams.

Back in Parker we had a "graffiti wall," which was basically just a huge piece of paper hung up in the first floor lounge where people could write inspirational messages, funny quotes, controversial and inflammatory remarks, etc. One day someone put up the quote "All men are great in their dreams -- Sigmund Freud" I wrote the following response directly underneath: "Obviously, he's never seen my dreams." Now, while there was a bit of smart-assery involved there (surprise surprise), there was also a bit of truth; in the majority of my dreams I am lost, powerless, totally at the mercy of outside forces.

Shocking, I know.

I don't really have recurring dreams where the same series of events unfold the same way each time. The last recurring dream that I remember having was when I was around 4 or 5, and I had a series of dreams in which I'm viewing from a distance a family, all in silhouette, running down a winding path with a burning house in the background; not too long ago I re-watched the old Disney flick The Black Hole and realized that the dream was inspired by a sequence with the silhouetted crew running down a bridge with a flaming meteor rolling towards them. Kind of surreal.

But, while I don't have recurring dreams per se, I do have recurring themes in my dreams:

  • When I was younger, I would have dreams where I was endlessly falling; one that stands out particularly vividly was one where I was a firefighter, running up a spiral staircase only to reach the top and realize it went nowhere. Then, as I fell into the awaiting abyss, I tried to use the firehose I had been carrying as a lasso to hook onto something and stop my descent -- didn't work. I only remember ever hitting bottom once in this sort of dream, and it woke me up as my body reacted to the dream jolt. Strange feeling.

  • I don't have flying dreams; I have floating dreams. They always start out with me running, with my stride turning into bounds that start to launch me higher and higher a la a young Clark Kent learning he can defy gravity; only, in my case, I always reach the point where I am suddenly stuck in the air, drifting along, unable to get back to the ground or even control which way I float. I think I got these dreams the most in college, but they still reappear every now and again.

  • I also have never had a dream where I've shown up at school buck naked; no, I always show up at school with at least my underwear on -- apparently even my subconscious has body shame.

  • Another variation on a popular dream theme is the "forgot I had a test" motif, but I, not liking to do anything in half measures, don't just forget I have a test -- no, in my dreams I suddenly realize that I had forgotten about an entire class I was signed up for, and it's time for the final and there's no way for me to salvage my grade. I'm always thankful when I wake up and remember I'm done with school.

  • I often have dreams where I get into fights with my friends, which one might be tempted to see as a sign of me subconsciously working through feelings of frustration and anger towards them, but the fact that in pretty much every dream of this sort* I have I wind up getting my butt kicked probably suggests something else . . .

  • Surprisingly enough, I rarely have what I would consider full-on nightmares; I've had stressful dreams, depressing dreams, and downright disturbing dreams that leave me shaken for days at a time, but almost never any that would qualify as terrifying, wake-up-screaming nightmares. You might think that growing up on a steady diet of horror films would have left a little bit more of an impression on my young psyche, but nope, very few visions of demons, monsters, or serial killers plague my dream life, and even those that do are more of a curiosity than a source of fear.
My dream life goes in cycles; I'll got months without dreaming (or, at least, without remembering my dreams) and then hit a patch of time where I wake up with vivid memories of my dreams almost every single day. Very few of those dreams leave a lasting impression, though; there are maybe a handful of dreams that still retain any sort of emotional resonance to me today. And, I might talk about those later, but right now Zinger is calling me a lazy bastage for not posting anything, so I'd better wrap it up.

*I can only think of one occasion off the top of my head where my dream ended up with me getting the upper hand, and even in the dream I thought to myself "Well, this isn't right, he could totally kick my butt." Self-esteem, thy name is not Todd.