Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I had a dream last night.

I went into a bank, where my friend, Jim, was the teller. I was broke, so I wanted to cash in a jar of change I'd been saving up. He took it and put it into machine that counted it up to $10.05. He told me the amount, and then told me that the charge for the service was $30.00, and so now I had $19.95 due. I was confused and upset, so he said he'd waive the rest of the fee, since I was a friend.

And then I woke up. And I know exactly what the dream means. But I won't go into it.

I've got a handle on my dreams. I used to write them down in a journal fairly regularly, and it works swell. If you're consistent about it, and you grab the pencil and start writing the moment you wake, within a couple months you will start retaining them pretty easily. I'm a little rusty now, since I haven't kept the Dream Journal in years, but I take my dream life kinda seriously, so they stick in my head two or three times a week.

Dreams are good things. (I know people who think to the contrary.) It's the brain's way of sorting out the day, sorting out your life. It's why you need to sleep. All day long you are a sponge for information and experience, and at night the brain does a sort of disk defragmentation, and puts it all in a filing system that is specific only to you. This is why babies and adolescents need more sleep -their growing brains and bodies need to PROCESS. And, if you're a wise old man, worriedly watching the world decline, you're gonna need another nap, too.

What fascinates me is how the mind likes to translate your daily dilemmas, your ongoing stresses, your fears and dramas. It uses the language of Metaphor. In an ever-flowing juxtaposition of seemingly disparate images and visual similes, the mind does a figurative ballet to the Music of the Spheres. I'm not particularly Jungian, so I'm only a half-believer in the major Archetypes, but I do definitely believe there are symbols in our dreams. It's just that the symbols are particular to the dreamer. All those "dream dictionaries" are mostly astrological bunk.

(I took a lot of Lit classes in college. And Philosophy. And Neuroscience. Once. So please forgive me.)

It's easy for me to interpret my dreams, now, as a result. I don't believe in prophetic dreams, any more than one can predict behavior with a given set of characteristics and circumstances. And I don't believe dreams really solve anything, though I can attest to a good night of sleep contributing to some odd professional solutions. And then there is the rare, every-so-often, story idea, which I would use only for its bizarre details. But I do believe that our dreams can give us an insight into our character, and help us prioritize our daily challenges.

Metaphors are important. Figurative language dates back to the dawn of man, as does dream interpretation. And everyone dreams: kings and paupers, salesmen and ale smiths. The Pope has strange dreams, from time to time. So does the President. So do you. Ignoring your dream life, I believe, is a form of denial. And kind of sad, actually. Because if you toss a crazy dream aside, you are dismissing the one perspective on your life that knows at least as much, or more, about you, than you.

Dreams are who you are, when you're too tired to be you.