I am fascinated by dreams, especially my own (a little egocentric, I admit). I have heard many theories about what dreams represent. Some say they are bits and pieces of thoughts that are in your brain, just put together in different ways. Others say they are flashes of your past, recalled by your subconscious mind. Still others theorize that dreams are portents of things to come. Or are dreams are messages from a source outside yourself? I'm not sure what to believe about the origin of dreams. I just know that I dream. A lot. I'm not sure if other people have patterns of recurring dreams, but I do. For better or worse, I repeatedly have the same dream scenarios over and over. The situations, surroundings, and people in my dreams change, but the gist remains constant.
One of my most frequent "dream themes" is this one:
I am in charge of a large group of children. I mean a really, really large group of children. I am teaching a lesson, giving directions - that sort of thing. No matter what I say, the children will not obey. They heckle me. They absolutely will not follow my directions. They take a perverse delight in mocking me. They are totally recalcitrant.
The teachers among you may consider this more of a nightmare than a dream. Let me say that it is quite unsettling. My frustration during this kind of dream reverberates through my dream persona. I can feel my dream self practically vibrating with irritation (and - dare I say it - anger). Let me also say that I have never really had this happen in real life, although I have been "in charge" of large groups of children for thirty-some-odd years now. I am very thankful that this kind of dream has not become a reality. It would completely do me in to go through this in real life!
So what does that dream mean? It seems fairly obvious to me that this dream speaks to my deep-seated fear of being unable to control my life, my surroundings, the situations I find myself in (or maybe just children). Maybe that explanation is too simplistic. Alternate explanations, anyone?
Another common "dream theme" for me is this:
I am out and about, maybe shopping, or going to some sort of event, or whatever - just going about daily life. I am with people and surrounded by people. Everything seems normal. . . then I realize that I am devoid of clothing of any kind. Naked as a jaybird! (Well, once I had on a transparent raincoat, but I don't really think it helped cover up much.) For the rest of the dream (which seems to go on forever), I unsuccessfully attempt to cover my nakedness with a variety of materials - newspapers, tablecloths, scarves, totebags, other people's clothing - whatever I can find in my state of acute and painful embarrassment.
Trust me - this is not a pretty picture. This kind of dream is always disturbing to me, and the excruciating embarrassment I experience lingers in my mind even after I have awakened. And, as above, I have never actually experienced this in real life. Thank God!
So what does that dream mean? I am not particularly given to exhibitionism, nor am I egotistical about my physical charms. So, I don't think this "dream theme" reveals a deeply buried secret desire to parade through town in my birthday suit! I have postulated that these dreams signify my fear of having my deepest thoughts, my hidden faults, my human foibles, exposed to the penetrating gaze of everyone around me. Does that seem reasonable to you?
And yet another, sort-of-nightmarish type of dream I have more often than I could wish:
I am a young college student. I suddenly come to the realization that, although this is finals week, and very, very important tests are imminent, I have never once, all semester, attended a class. Ever.
I usually wake in a cold sweat from this type of dream. I am pretty good at faking it on tests, but I am very sure I cannot fake my way through a whole semester of missed information! If you know me, you also know that this would NEVER be something I would really do. I was that extremely irritating student who regularly signed up for 8:00 classes, and never ditched class. (But you could count on me to have really thorough notes to copy if you needed them!)
Why, then, have I been having this same kind of dream for roughly thirty years? I believe that this dream stems from my great fear, my almost-phobia, of not living up to my responsibilities. Why I worry about this so much, I don't know. I don't make a habit of being irresponsible. I am happy to report, however, that I am beginning to be a little less frantic about it as I get older. Something to look forward to for you youngsters.
On a more pleasant note, my favorite (though far less frequent) dream is this:
I am outside - in a yard, or on a street, even sometimes on the roof of a building - and I feel a desire to travel from that place to another. I lift my arms, and with no apparent means of propulsion, rise into the air. I am flying! I can steer easily by tilting my arms. I can swoop and glide through the sky like a soaring bird. I can control my speed effortlessly. When I wish to land, I gently touch back down on solid ground. What an amazing feeling of freedom! I am reluctant to wake up, to have this beautiful experience end, but I must. . .
Of all the kinds of dreams I have, this is by far my favorite, but alas, it does not happen very often. If I could program my sleeping mind to engage in this type of dream on demand, I would do it every night. And, as in both of the other cases I have mentioned, I have obviously never done this in real life. The sensation of flying without any kind of machine or device is incredible, and no airplane or helicopter or hot-air balloon ride can compare.
So, what do you think that dream means? I believe it represents my yearning for freedom from the constraints of daily life, or of my physical body, or maybe of worry. Or, maybe it presages my life after death. Not sure, but I do know I hope to have that kind of dream again very soon!