When I close my eyes at night, my sleeping brain fills with rich, vivid scenes that might as well have been cut out of a movie. It’s always been that way for me, since before I can remember. When I was in college, I took a required course on creativity in business where one of our semester projects was to keep a dream journal. At the end of the semester, most of my classmates submitted a 10-page-or-so, double-spaced document stapled together with their name on top. Mine was over 60 pages, single-spaced, with pictures, headings, and formatting, and the stack was too thick to staple, so I had to put it all into one of those 3-hole-punched portfolio folders. My professor was floored; didn’t want to believe I actually dreamed that often with that much detail.
Part of that assignment was also to provide an interpretation for those dreams, but I didn’t like that part. I didn’t want to impose a meaning on my dreams, because that would take away their magic. Obviously, there are times when it’s clear my subconscious mind is dreaming things to help me cope with whatever is happening in my waking life, but the vast majority of the time, it feels more like I step into an alternate universe and live a different life for a while. Sometimes I’m the main player, other times I observe from a distance. Sometimes, the dream has a clear beginning, middle, and end, with a conflict and climax like a fully fleshed-out story (though I rarely sleep long enough to see the resolution), other times it jumps around from scene to scene without rhyme or reason. It’s not something I ever want to manipulate into an orderly box. The unrestrained randomness of it is what makes it all so fascinating to me in the first place. It’s like I switch seats and, for as long as that dream lasts, I’m the recipient of the story, rather than its creator.
I still keep a dream journal to this day, although it now has the form of private Facebook posts, hashtagged for easy reference. However, that’s not the most reliable method of preservation, so I spent the last few days exporting each individual dream into word documents sorted by date. A separate document for every year. 2015 came out to about 15,000 words when all was said and done. 2016 about the same. I’m at 13,000 for 2017 so far. I was reading through a few of them as I was copying them over, and it surprised me how easily my mind recalled details and images from dreams I’d had three or four years ago.
My favorite ones are when I dream of fantastic places so vivid with color that even in the dream I want to document it somehow. I see beautiful mountain vistas, sunsets where the sky is crowded with planets multiple times the size of our moon, seascapes where the retreating waves reveal treasures of sparkling gems and polished shells, and it always takes my breath away. I always try to take photos or video of them, and inevitably fail for one reason or another, but it never stops me from checking my phone the next morning to see if maybe, just maybe, it was actually real, and I managed to record evidence of it.
My dreams are magic, and no feeble rationalization of “stress in the workplace,” or “difficulties in my personal relationships” will ever do them justice.
A long time ago (we’re talking high school here), I wrote a series of random scenes for a set of fantasy characters. They encountered an incorporeal but still sentient being I called the Dreamweaver. It essentially warped the world around each character, trapped them in their own worst nightmare, and the only way out was to see it through. Remember the mental tests from Divergent? It was similar to that, except in the real world. The characters were physically in the environment of their dreams, which meant they could get hurt and die, and they had no control over it. In other words, they couldn’t cheat the way Tris did, and they couldn’t get any help from the outside. They survived–barely–but by the time they came back together again, their psyches were scarred something awful.
I haven’t thought about those characters in year, but I remembered them, and those scenes, while transcribing my dream journal yesterday. It was all still as vivid as the day I wrote those scenes.
Anyway, the whole reason for this post is about as abstract as dreaming itself. I guess I wanted to make it a point to share something personal to me, because I’m not a sharing kind of person on the best of days, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s not because I have secrets, or because I put up walls (although I do) but because most of the time it just doesn’t occur to me to talk about my personal life. Between you and me, my life is so boring I’d run out of things to say in about 5 minutes. Most of my adventures happen on the written page or in my dreams, which is also why those dreams are so important to me, and why I don’t want to interpret them, or try to control them through lucid dreaming. It’s exhausting enough just trying to keep my waking life in some semblance of order. Dreams are supposed to be an escape.
Don’t you agree?
What was your most vivid dream ever?