Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dream Geography Part 1

Do you remember your dreams? I do.

The images and events often make no sense, if regarded as a narrative,  but I recall many of them in vivid detail. The first time I heard of lucid dreaming (a pop-psychology fad that comes and goes) it was described as a difficult discipline to master. That surprised me. I have always been the director of my own sleeping adventures.

I don't remember all my dreams, not by any means. I'm sure I go through REM sleep several times a night like everyone else, retaining nothing of the experience. Some dreams, though--some of them stick with me. When I finally pull free of sleep, they trail after my consciousness like loose threads, tickling my imagination and plucking at my ability to concentrate on the practical, grounded necessities of real life.

There's a distinct geography to my dreamscape, too. I visit the same places time and time again. Events never recur, but themes do: storms, journeys, personal conflicts and disasters all feature prominently. I'm seldom alone, in this interconnected land of my subconscious.  I often interact with people I don't recognize physically, but who are known to me on some visceral, accepting level of my soul. The faces that I would call enemy or friend in my nightly adventures might look nothing like the people I would reject or embrace when awake. Sometimes they aren't even human, in my dreams, but I know them.

The disconnected territories I visit are as distinctive as any places I've walked in the physical world, and their inhabitants are as fully-realized as the living, breathing people who share my daily life. I seem to add new places and new faces when I've learned something new, when I've stretched my mental or physical limits. My dreamscape grows richer whenever I've lived larger and breathed deeper and stretched myself. Every experience in the waking world adds to the universe of my imagination.

In all my life, I have only had three nightmares. In each case, my brain played a cruel trick, and I woke from dream to dream, then to dream again, each nastier than the next. There's a scene in An American Werewolf in London that perfectly captures the feeling of helpless panic and despair this creates. The rest of the time, when I'm dreaming, I know it's a dream, I just don't care. It's a dream. Things are happening. It's entertainment.

That's not to say my dreams are exciting. I have read books, in my dreams. (It makes for an odd kind of deja vu, sometimes, when I re-read the real text that inspired it)  I have spent dreamtime cleaning grout, climbing stairs, solving math puzzle, and getting lost in malls.

I'm not the kind of person who can keep a dream journal at the bedside and hold the discipline of writing down each one as I wake, no more than I seem to be able to hold to the discipline of writing anything to a schedule. Instead, I plan to scribble them down here, now and then, when I encounter a dream that leaves a strong enough imprint to last into the daylight hours.

Postscript/disclaimer:
I called this post part 1, but please don't expect me to be consistent with titles. Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, or something like that. Google the quote if you want. I promise I'll label the posts with "dream geography." Beyond that, meh.

You're hoping I dream about gargoyles, aren't you? Me, too.

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