I have been dreaming a lot lately: Throughout my life I’ve gone through various phases of intense periods of dreaming and not-dreaming. Lately I’ve been on a hot streak, but I’d be lying if I said knew what they all mean.
Interpretation of dreams may be the world’s second-oldest past time. The first book of dreams was written around 5000 B.C. when the Sumerians thought dreams were direct messages from God. Since then, the Bible, Shakespeare, Freud and Aerosmith have all weighed in on the meaning of dreams. Depending on what coffee shop I’m in, and what group of friends I’m hanging out with, I can hear dream references varying from ‘mindless drivel’ to ‘gateways into the deepest, darkest secrets our souls’, and everything in between. Having said that, the comments “She’s just a dreamer”, or “He’s gone off to chase his dreams” are seldom aired with admiration or affection.
Stricken with the affliction of self-awareness (or is it self-absorption?), I pay attention to my dreams. I wonder what they mean, why they occur when they do, and what lesson do I need to be learning. Some of my dreams are ridiculously and deliciously entertaining, while others are charged with drama and intensity.
As a young schoolboy, on the night before the first day of school, I repeatedly dreamed I was on the school bus when I realized I was wearing only my underwear.
Sensing Chris and Caity’s apprehensive excitement on the eve of their new school year, I would share this with them, and the next morning I would ask, “Did you have the dream?”
Although they never admitted it, I know I’m not alone. Sometimes the risk of sharing dreams is the risk of exposing vulnerability. Sometimes it’s not; sometimes, it’s just fun.
This past August I received a text from my golf partner, Joe Dean, which read, “Last night I dreamed we had Groupies!” I howled.
The day before, we had won our golf match against what I considered a superior team. They should have crushed us – yet we prevailed. The win allowed us to advance to the championship round of this season-long competition. While common golf-courtesy limits expression of victory to removing our hats as we shake hands with our opponents on the final hole, our collective giddiness obviously crept into Joe’s dreamy subconscious.
I don’t remember all my dreams, but when I do, there are some doosies. Sometimes I have an immediate, simple explanation I can understand. Sometimes the dream lingers as I search for meaning as random people from different eras interact in ways that seem neither straight forward nor linear, but somehow flow logically.
Last night I dreamed my bride, Leigh, and I were at a work conference at a golf resort. Although the “work” portion of the day was complete, I was discussing a work-related issue with an acquaintance (that I have not actually done business with). Much to Leigh’s delight, he chastised me for discussing work during the designated “play” time. It’s pretty easy for me to see how I have unresolved issues of segregating work and play (not to mention my perspective of Leigh’s perspective!)
Last week, I dreamed about my dog that had died in 2001(“The Last Hike“). Shamrock had been abducted by an Alaskan animal snatching ring, and I was chasing breathlessly through small fishing towns and the snowy back country. Even though I would only get an occasional glimpse of that coffee table-clearing powerful tail of his as it went around yet another corner or tree, I knew I was always “on the right trail” and kept chasing. Perhaps I’m seeking redemption for his early demise, and the geographical backdrop is connected to the Alaskan reference in my last blog. I’m still noodling on that one.
Death and the deceased are not strangers to my dream life. Shortly after our wedding, we spent a few nights at Leigh’s family cabin at Lake Meade. As I was drifting off to sleep one night, I felt a ‘presence’ enter the bedroom and glide toward me. I was frozen in place, holding my breath. I could literally feel this ‘presence’ sit down and I could see an imprint on the sheets next to me on edge of the bed. After a couple of minutes, this presence, later defined to me as Mamaw, her grandmother I had never met, arose and went on her way. I remember the ‘feel’ of that today as strongly as I did in June 1981.
In 2009, while being treated for Shingles virus, I was prescribed Vicodin to manage the pain. As some may empathize, ‘runaway pain’ is very, very real and a frightening experience. In an effort to prevent the ‘freight train of pain’ from leaving the station, and to steal some much-needed sleep, I took a prescribed midnight dose at around 10:30 PM. As I dozed off in that hazy state, I began to hear distant, melodic thuds. At first I thought it was the sound of a passing car blaring music with the bass turned all the way up to 10 on the dial. It did not pass; the persistent thuds continued until I realized it was the sound of nails being hammered into wood. I then realized I was in a coffin that was literally being nailed shut. Although I knew it was “just a dream”, I was frozen, face up with arms across my chest, and vocal chords paralyzed. I kept telling myself “This is just a dream. This is just a dream”, but the thuds persisted.
When “I came out of it”, the message was clear; “You’re not a Doctor – just take your meds as prescribed!”
I’ve also received financial advice from dreams.
The year is 2039 and I am sitting at a round table during the party celebrating my 80th birthday. (This is significant since my financial game plan for years have been based on me living until I’m 68; it’s a long, insignificant story.) The table discussion is centered on finding a replacement for a recently deceased friend who was scheduled to go on a trip with me to Bozeman, Montana. (I have never been to Bozeman mind you, but I’ve heard it’s a nice place). Anyway, I doze off in the middle of this conversation, only to be awoken by a friend whom I had just met (in 2011) wiping the drool off of my chin. When I looked at her quizzically, she simply said, “Because that’s what friends do!” and the conversation returned to finding me a travel mate.
Of course this dream means I now need to work long enough to add another 12 years of retirement savings, which takes me back to my issues of segregating work and play. In my dreams, like my life, everything is related; yet seldom is it straight forward or linear. But in the end, somehow, everything seems logical.
Not everybody believes in the power of dreams to change their lives. I say give it a try. I know that my dreams affect me. I am very grateful for the dreams I have and the dreams I chase. As Jack Johnson sings, “don’t let your dreams be dreams”.
As for my golf partner Joe “The Dream” Dean, I present to you the winners of the CCH 2012 Old Pal Match Play Championship! But, Joe, where are the Groupies?