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Posted by on January 9, 2016

It bothers me that I cannot fully recall my dreams. While I often awake with a fragment or two of where I have been, the whole of it is quickly lost. Amazing moments, tragic moments, people who are long gone, others who have no relationship to each other in my other life frolic and interact in my dream life like old friends. Whole collages of my unconscious mind collide and collude and otherwise intertwine nightly. Sometimes I do recall enough to relate a fragment to Meredy, but I am sure that these pieces of sleep make as much sense to her as they do to me. And, after all, I am sure she has her own fragments to sort out. She has shared the experience of waking up mad at me for something I did in her dream. While she knows I did not do it, I know that it takes her awhile to let it go. Such are the shadows of dreams.
I recall that the Gestalt therapist, Fritz Perls, opined that we are everything in our dreams. So if we dream ourselves sitting under a kitchen table while our parents are sitting, arguing above us, we are not only the squatting child, we are the mom, the dad, and even the table (Thus he might begin a therapy session by asking one to verbalize what the table might say to the child.) But while I might give credence to this notion as a stepping stone to the door of the unconscious for therapeutic purposes, it does not help me much in reconciling my nightly adventures.
I often spend uneasy days in the wake of dreams that I cannot recall. While I can’t remember what happened, I feel indelibly stamped by the experience. (On one hand, if I was kissed by X or if I dreamed I was kissed by X, what is the difference to the memory?) But what if one dreams something more profound or intense, waking with no recall of the particulars, but still sitting with the ashes of the experience? Such dreams cast emotional shadows on my days that are not only hard to admit to myself, but difficult to explain to my Meredy, who no doubt just wonders about me.
Of course, sometimes dreams are wonderful and I want to just roll over and go back to where I was a moment before, but it is rare that I can. Dreams are filament and reconstructing them is like trying to patch a spider web back together. Yet, dreams also seem to fall into patterns, the most constant of which is that of rooms. My dreams often happen in houses, corridors, mazes of rooms, buildings of every sort, holding in common that the moments are compartmentalized…perhaps like my mind. Even when the dream is outdoors, they are in a maze of streets and alleys with corners and odd alcoves. While I truly love the outdoors, my dreams rarely take me there. They are more like some frivolous game of Dungeons and Dragons, except there are rarely dragons, but more likely children, or past students, or lost friends. My father visits from time to time, but he does not reveal much, even after all these years. The other night I dreamt myself into a room where two old friends sat. Both are long passed from this life, but in that room they were vital and alive. One, who struggled in her life to be happy, was happy and at peace and I kissed her gently on the forehead. The other, wise and outrageous in her living years, just sat quietly, but I could feel her radiating love and approval. That was it. There and gone. But I woke with a sense of gratitude that lasted the morning. Yet, this recall is rare. More frequently, the reason for my state of being though a morning, a sadness, an uneasiness, a fear, is entirely lost to me.
For some of the above reasons, I have to be careful about the movies I watch, as my dreams very frequently take on the mood and motif of a movie watched before bed. As I am not prone to horror flicks or even particularly gruesome ones, it is probably just as well. I wish it was as easy as picking a movie I wanted to dream and going there. I have less control. I seem to recall that I was better able to do this when I was young. I would lie down and think about a particular dream I wanted to have again and pull it up from the files. Perhaps time and experience fill those same files so much more completely that I can’t just readily pull up a dream sequence any more than I can find a particular file on my PC. My subconscious needs a “search” function.
It occurs to me as I write this that I struggled with this same phenomenon as a child, as I am sure that each child does. There was so little gap between my dream life and my “real” life that I would frequently drift from one to the other. Thus, it is important when we wake children in the morning that we give them the time to shift planes, not just waking from nightmares, but waking from wherever their minds took them. I learned this from Kyra, as upon waking her in the morning I would sit by her bedside for 15 or 20 minutes while she very precisely recounted the particulars of her dreams. She had the gift, which I lack, of recall. I would pour myself a cup of coffee before I would go in to wake her, as I was usually in for a short journey.
Will Shakespeare let Prospero instruct us that “we are such stuff as dreams are made of…” (And he rounded it out with mentioning that “our little life is rounded by sleep”) I am struck by that truth. Perhaps this life is just a dream of some divine being. Maybe this is a dream of my own making. But if so, I hope that I drift through my eternity in its sweet shadow, even if I cannot recall the particulars.

2 Responses to Dreams

  1. eileen

    Another reason I wonder….are you sure we’re not twins? I guess we certainly both got the dream gene and if I could write as eloquently as you, this would be my post of dreams as well. Except, I can remarkably recall almost all of them – which is pretty amazing since I dream almost every night. One of our morning rituals is Marion usually asking me “So, what happened last night”? Which also usually ends up with him looking at me like I’m nuts after I tell him the places my mind took me:)
    Sweet dreams…XO

  2. Dave Hackel

    Lovely, Dennis. Very sweet. And thought provoking, too. I’ll sleep on it and get back to you .

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