Sleep. That time when you lay your body down, cuddle up — with your blankets or that warm, breathing, cuddly other — and drift off, somehow tapping into the undercurrents that bubble and flow or flutter and breeze by your bed every night to take you into the adventures waiting for you in dreamworld.
Scientists are undecided about the purpose of dreams. Perhaps dreams consolidate the visual, emotional tactile experiences of your day to help install them better into memory. Or perhaps dreams result from the thousands of random nothings that hit your various senses during the day and unbeknownst to you, somehow seep into your consciousness until trashed: dreams being the dumpster of that information junk mail, to clear out of your brain and memory cells to make room for other things.
Perhaps dreams are doors, offering a portal into wacky, kaleidoscope realities in alternate dimensions like Dorothy’s journey to the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz or Alice’s trip (or fall) into Wonderland, or maybe dreams might — just might — give rise to the slipstream phenomenon in its two key primal elements (water and air) that somehow allow us to travel to those places that Jung wondered about, of aspects of self and our shared and collective consciousness(es), using symbols of myth and archetypes and light and dark all of which lead us to those that we might not otherwise meet.
There is also a long history of thinking that everything abut the world is but a dream — that we are dreamed, and that what we dream is also dreamed into existence.
We have archetypes because certain life experiences, many of the world mythologies, faiths and philosophies tell similar stories, touch on similar themes which at their root address universal human issues that concern most of us at some point in our life. But I tend to think that dreams and what occur in them are unique to the dreamer and the dreamer’s experience, hopes and fears and wishes and wants.
As for humans, our history and myths and sacred texts are filled with stories of kings and queens and princesses and peasants seeking out the the meanings of the riddles and symbols found in their dreams, a practice still very much alive today, although today’s dream interpreters and soothsayers are not necessarily oracles or shamans or leaders of lost tribes, or town elders, but websites and podcasts and books and various schools and preachers of of parapsychology, psychology and psychiatry and newer-age spiritualities following a particular theoretical model through which everything is filtered, including dream symbols.
Other than a few, I am not entirely convinced that there are universal meanings to all symbols: what water means to me is quite likely different than what water means to someone who lives next to a sea or ocean or in a desert, or someone who lives in through monsoon season every year. Not to make too fine a point of it (too late, I know) symbols are cultural, and not every culture has absorbed Freud, theosophy, or as the song says (and apparently incorrectly) the Age of Aquarius.
I love dreaming, even when I awaken from a dream that leaves odd feelings that won’t dissipate. And I wonder about dreaming and other people’s dream life. Animals too. After living with cats and dogs my entire life, I think it’s conceivable that cats and dogs dream in some fashion, judging from their barks, grrs, tail and paw movements, but it’s only a guess. As a kid, I had a couple of recurring dreams that somehow suggested I should pay attention to my dreams. And so, I did. And it got to be fun.
Now, there are times I take to sleep in order to induce a dream, when I need to process what is running noisily the hyperspace in my brain, like a hamster on a squeaky wire treadmill. And sometimes in that sleep I dream things that fall into two camps: dead simple obvious thing, or a long, winding storyline complete with symbols and conversations with people I do not know that once deciphered, offer fun and wild insights. When I wake from sleep and don’t remember my dreams I feel as something is missing, even if it is only interesting, colourful but meaningless junk mail.
So tonight, sleep sweet. And when next you dream, I hope your heart soars and your body refreshes. And if you’d like to share any of your dreams and start a conversation, please feel free. 🙂
Quotes on dreams
There is a dream, and it is dreaming us. Kalahari Bushmen
When we die, we return to the Dream world. Maori cosmology
Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. Marsha Norman