Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Dream on

Have you ever woken up in the morning, scratching your head in puzzlement and asking yourself “What was all THAT about?”

Dreams are a fascinating subject – especially the science behind them. Though for most of us, they are primarily a personal movie playing out in our head, they are not always composed of images, as it is known that blind people and those who cannot visualize while awake also dream, mostly in sounds and sensations.

It is estimated that the average person can have 49,000 hours or more worth of dreams in their lifetime, so they must mean something surely?

I’ve applied an awful lot of amateur psychiatric self-analysis to my dreams over the past umpty-umm years I’ve been around. I’ve tried theories about suppressed desires, hopes and fears, and even old wives’ tales of the significance of black dogs (death), loose teeth (sexual anxiety or impotence) and naked supermarket shopping (exposure anxiety). But I’ve now I’ve reached the point when I’ve called a halt to the amateur analysis, and now just surrender myself as an amused spectator of my internal cinescope.

I guess I’m pretty lucky that I have had very few nightmares in my life (or at least if I have I don’t remember them). Those that I do recall seem to have a feel of a Tim Burton film, though sadly without Johnny Depp.

Perhaps the worst dream I can recall came about three years after my beloved granddad died. He was a gentle, charming, loving and highly moral man, but for some reason, in my dream he appeared as a monster which I had to protect the baby I had been given to care for from (this was long before I became a mother or even started thinking about having kids). I woke up in floods of tears, more out of a sense of betrayal because my sub-conscious had thrown up such a dream about the man who played such a big part in my happy childhood, than any sense of fear. I still haven’t worked out what that was all about.

But that was the exception. Most of my dreams are vaguely amusing, surreal and lucid (in full colour and, if I am particularly enjoying the plot, I can sometimes go back to sleep and continue it to see what happens next).

Dream Scape No.1:
I’m walking through some woods (which I instinctively know are somewhere in East Sussex) with a group of friends from college, when we come across a clearing with a large, well-maintained swimming pool in it. For some reason, we conclude that we must have wondered onto land owned by Paul McCartney. It’s a hot day and there’s no-one around, so we decide to take a dip. But the minute we hit the water it turns into a purple cloud which floats off, with us on board, into the summer sky.
[No, there was no substances anywhere near me before, during or after this dream]  

Dream Scape No.2:
Back in my early teens. I’m sitting on a bench at the mouth of a cave, making small talk to a terribly well-dressed and eloquent vampire (as you do). All is well, until he gives a little sigh, turns to me and says “And now, my dear, I must pierce your neck.”
[OK, this one doesn’t take a lot of analysis. Awakening sexual awareness, mysterious strangers, blood, danger, etc. Sort of like my own personal ‘Twilight’ 30 years before Bella and Edward got their act together]

Dream Scape No.3:
I’m visiting my mum in the house I grew up in. For some reason, the trip from Greece to Gatwick has been a grueling one, so I tell my mum I’m going to have a lie-down in my old bedroom, in the middle of the day (gasp!). However, I’m too wired up to sleep so I decide to go down into the town to walk it off. So, I calmly put my bed into gear, drive it down the stairs, out the front door, and down the road where I park it in the middle of town. The bed sits there, complete with matching duvet cover and valance, waiting for me to finish my stroll round the shops.
[Answers on a postcard, please. Personally, I haven’t got the foggiest idea]

Dream Scape No.4:
I seem to be young again. I’m wearing a long white nightgown and I'm heading for my bedroom, but for some reason it is in a dark forbidding building (perhaps something like the Victorian infants school I attended – and ran away from). To reach my room, I have to walk through some long, damp, unlit corridors. I’m not wearing my glasses or contact lenses so everything is a blur. It is seriously creepy, but I’m not scared because I have my dog with me. I seem to recall this dog as a character from other dreams. He’s big and scruffy, possibly with a dose of Irish Wolfhound in the mix, and vaguely annoying in a good-natured way. He walks along beside me, occasionally grabbing my hand in his mouth in a bid to get me play. But I know that if anyone or anything tried to do me any harm, he’d see them off in a blink of an eye.
[Maybe this is a metaphor for uncertainty about the future? Interesting that there is something with me that stops fear taking over. Not sure who or what the dog represents. An aspect of myself, perhaps?]

If you’ve read this far without falling asleep or coming to the conclusion that I’m an acid-fried old hippy (not guilty) or a raging psychopath (also not guilty - honest), I’d love to hear about your dreams.

If nothing else, they might give us a starting point for a screenplay we could try to flog to Tim Burton.


  1. I have mad dreams too, but a clinical psychologist I know tells me it isn't the subject matter in the dream, it's how you FEEL reflecting your current feelings. He also said you should keep a dream diary and your subconscious will start trying to communicate with you... or something.

  2. Dreaming used to be just like going to the pictures for me.....and in the morning I could remember them completely....they were in colour, I was revisiting places, and dreams, over and over, they were very clear, and with me constantly being 'aware' of my dream state. It was also very entertaining. As I get older I find that it is harder to remember my dreams and at first I was sad about this but now I just accept that is how it is.

  3. My favorite dreams are the ones where I'm just going along, dreaming something boring, and then I suddenly realize I'm dreaming, which means I can fly. I put my arms flat down by my sides, lean forward, and push off with my feet - and fly like a rocket. In some dreams I fly very close to the ground, in others I soar above the landscape. In one, I decided to go up through the atmosphere and look down on the earth, then rocketed back down again. Flying dreams are the best!

  4. My husband has long, intricately plotted dreams which make sense -- something I've always envied. Me, none of my dreams make any sense at all since I mostly stopped having nightmares (somewhere in my 20s). This happened about the time some therapist told me that all characters in a dream are aspects of ourselves. So why be afraid of the terrorists who are sneaking up your remote driveway? That doesn't seem to work though when it comes to one of those dreams where I wake up sobbing thanks to some slight delivered by my mother (who's been dead over 20 years) or fight with my sister (who's 12 years older than me and whom I've never fought with in waking life). I guess you could say that I cry because these are things which need to happen but never can, due to long habit or death... Who knows?