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I’m a Dreamer…

May 29, 2011

…aren’t we all?

I love my dreams. I look forward to them the way TV addicts look forward to their evening’s viewing. My dreams surprise me, they delight me and sometimes they startle me. On occasion they even scare me. My dreams are strong and vivid. They’re always in color and sometimes I dream in Spanish. I laugh uproariously in some, cry in others. I hear music, wonderful music that I can never recall upon waking. My dreams usually involve people close to me, sometimes people I’ve known over the years. (I still have occasional dreams about mom. Sometimes she’s the way she was before her mental and physical deterioration, sometimes she’s the way she was during the last couple of years of her life.)

Unlike most people I’ve talked with about dreams, I seem to have little trouble remembering them upon awakening. In the morning, while showering or working out or driving to work, I can recall my dreams of the night before, often in surprising detail. And it’s uncanny how many times some little event during the day, or some image I come across in the newspaper or a magazine, or something someone says will trigger the instant recall of yet another dream of the night before, one that hadn’t come to memory. I also review my dreams, asking questions about them. Who was in them? What was the setting of the dream? What was I doing? What were others doing? What was the feel of the dream?

I attach little or no significance to my dreams. I don’t believe they are in any sense portents. I don’t even think dreams, my dreams in any case, reveal hidden aspects of my personality or problems I’m coping with or insecurities in my life; I don’t look for any psychological significance to them.

I’ve noticed that all five senses are active in my dreams. In addition to seeing and hearing, I also have dreams where I can taste, smell and feel. As I said above, I have dreams that involve music, many kinds of music: flamenco, rock, jazz, classical. In these dreams, I’m listening to a musician, group or orchestra play live. And the music is wonderful. But this puzzles me. The other night, for example, I dreamed I was watching and listening to a pianist play a complex piece of modernist classical music. His hands were doing what they should do as I watched and listened. So now I have to ask: how does this happen? Either my subconscious mind is spontaneously composing and playing this music (who knew I had such talent?) or I’m recalling, in its totality, down to the last note, a piece of music I’ve heard at some time in my life and I’m replaying it in my dream. Either explanation indicates an amazing process. Do others experience this?

Most of the time I can trace the images and happenings in my dreams to mundane sources. The other night, for example, I had a dream that Adolf Hitler was sitting in the crotch of a tree singing Flat Foot Floogie, the old Slim Gaillard tune. Why Hitler? Well, I had seen a program about World War Two on the History Channel a couple of nights before and Hitler was prominent. And Flat Foot Floogie? I had listened to Fats Waller playing the song in the car that day. And that’s just what attracts me to my dreams, that unexpected juxtaposition of everyday images and occurrences in novel ways—I never know what I’m going to get.

I can fly in my dreams. It took me a long time to figure this out because I didn’t realize that’s what was happening. I’ve had some dreams where my flying was obvious: swooping and soaring through the skies—and what an experience that is! But my dream-flying is usually at a much lower altitude, approximately one to two inches off the ground. I know, this isn’t much, but, because I never touch the ground, it is flying. For the longest time I thought I was just kind of “skating” when this happened. I take a couple of steps and all of a sudden I’m just gliding along at a pretty good clip, not even having to move my legs or my feet; it’s totally effortless. When I have to make a turn, it’s always so very graceful with no diminishing of speed. Finally I realized that if I wasn’t touching the ground, there was only one way to think of the experience: flying. It’s very curious, though, that nobody else in my dream ever flies or even takes notice of the fact that I am.

There’s some kind of relationship between my dreams and the quality of my sleep. I’ve noticed that when my dreams are vivid, I sleep better. Or maybe when I sleep better, my dreams are more vivid. I don’t know. But restful sleep and vivid dreams go hand in hand, just as less restful sleep goes hand in hand with less vivid dreams.

There are three kinds of dreams that occur regularly: dreams involving water, dreams where I am either naked or in my underwear somewhere in public (and I’ve read that this is not uncommon), and dreams where I’m back in the Air Force. I like the water dreams, even though they sometimes produce anxiety. Most of them involve the ocean, with huge waves crashing on the beach. Sometimes I’m safely observing the power of all this water from a distance, only to have a series of waves reach me anyway. Sometimes I’m on the beach, trying to get away from the waves. Once in a while I’m caught underwater, holding my breath, desperately trying to surface. With this kind of dream, one of two things happens. Either I wake up, gasping for air (I’ve actually been holding my breath while asleep) or, miracle of miracles! I find I can breathe underwater. That’s almost as much fun as flying.

The Air Force dreams are powerful in a different way. Sometimes I’m young again, sometimes I’m my current age. Regardless of which it is, though, I’m married to Debby and there’s an overwhelming feeling of separation, of loss. I have six months or two years or four years before I’ll be out and I have to put my life on hold to serve out my enlistment.

Nonetheless, I love my dreams. They make my nights as interesting and as enjoyable as my days. My life is richer because of them.


And, to finish up this week, another installment of “If Only I Could Draw!”

Cartoon #23: A man is on his hands and knees in his garden. By his side is a box marked “Slug Trap”. The caption: “Every month Archie gathers slugs for his famous banana slug bread.”


Cartoon #27: A man is standing at a kitchen counter, ready to put a slice of bread into a toaster. Caption: “OK bread, you’re toast!”


8 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob Seidensticker permalink
    May 30, 2011 4:26 pm

    I heard of a debate between two psychologists about the vividness of dreams. Dr. A said that dreams were as vivid as real life and Dr. B said the opposite. One day Dr. A was driving along and looking up at the trees. The sun was shining behind the leaves, and he marveled at the sparkling light. He thought, “This is beautiful. I’m almost beginning to think that Dr. B is right. Dreams could never be this vivid.”

    And then he woke up.

  2. May 30, 2011 5:01 pm

    That story jogged my memory. On occasion, I’ve had dreams where I’m asking myself if it’s a dream or am I really awake. Just about the time I’m convinced I’m awake, not dreaming, like Dr. A., I wake up. Very disconcerting, because then I have to ask myself again, am I dreaming? Or awake?

  3. Ayanna permalink
    June 1, 2011 12:47 am

    I think the reason no one notices you flying in your dreams is ‘cuz they’re flying too! What, you think you’re the only dream-inhabitant who’s levitating off the ground? ;-P

    • June 1, 2011 11:41 pm

      As I think it about it, I am the only one flying. All others are clearly walking. They’re MY dreams after all. But they are MY dreams so maybe I’m just not letting anyone else fly.


  4. NRJ permalink
    June 1, 2011 6:13 pm

    I used to have recurring dreams of running to escape from things, usually occurring in the same buildings – large buildings with seemingly endless rooms, doors and hallways. Normally it was some menacing person or persons from whom I was running – but I can’t call them nightmares because I either escaped into some outdoors area, or, when about to be “captured” or trapped for some reason I never understood, I would realize it was just a dream – although I don’t remember waking up, only that I could recall that I knew it was a dream and became content and would sometimes even continue the “adventure” with a secure feeling that I was in a dream and couldn’t be harmed. These dreams were probably most prevelant during my teen years, but continued at times into my twenties, and rarely but sometimes even later. Other than those, I don’t much recall my dreams, although I know I still have them, because I often wake up from one thinking how interesting or peculiar or strange it was, and telling myself that I should remember this one and write it down tomorrow – but then I always forget it and only remember that I had one I should have remembered. I always say I don’t dream because I can’t recall them later, but in hindsight I do remember having dreams, I just can’t tell you what they were because they have disappeared into the night (or early morning). I do know how vivid and real they can be, and can certainly recall on many occasions knowing (at the time) how impossible the reality of the dream was. I wish had your sense of recall, because I know they would make interesting stories of a sort. You should try using yours to write some fictional night novels.

    • June 1, 2011 11:46 pm

      Remembering dreams is something you probably have to work at, make a conscious effort on awakening. And even then you won’t remember all your dreams and probably not even all of any one dream. I like the possibility of stories based on my dreams. Gimme a title for a dream-story about Adolf sitting in a tree singing Flat Foot Floogie.


      • NRJ permalink
        June 2, 2011 5:59 am

        I think you should write a lengthy novel called “Slim Adolph’s Guitar Foot”

  5. June 2, 2011 11:28 pm

    I think I like “Crotchety Adolf” better.

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