May 31, 2009
Why is it that when someone has a bad dream they feel compelled to talk about it? As soon as I hear: "I had the worst dream last night", I know it's my cue to ask what happened.
What follows is a strange monologue that makes no sense and has no point. And of course whoever had the dream is expecting me to be as interested in it as they are. If I'm barely able to pay attention to the details of things that happen in their real life, what makes them think I'll care about things that happen when they're floating and flying?
But even if you don't ask what happened, they'll tell you anyway. If there's one thing I've learned from being around people who have vivid dreams, it's that they love to share them. Why? Because it felt so real.
For the person who didn't experience it, it's boring. Listening to someone who was at Woodstock in the 60's talk about their acid trip would be more appealing. At least that actually happened.
Liza has a similar stance on dream talkers. She can't stand it when someone says, "You won't believe the dream I had," and then goes on about some crazy scenario.
"Yeah. I DO believe it," she snaps, "because it's a DREAM. You could tell me you chopped your own head off, put it in a blender, fed it to a lion and then flew to Alaska, and you know what? I'd believe you!"
The worst is when someone is telling you a dream and you don't know they are telling you a dream until halfway through the story.
Recently a friend was telling me about having scrambled eggs with Robert Redford in a diner. Suddenly, the diner was in Hawaii and the two of them were surfing. That didn't sound right. "Oh wait," she said," I didn't tell you this was a dream?"
That was 20 minutes of my life I could have been doing something productive. Like re-evaluating the friendship.
People love to have their dreams analysed but I've never understood why. What can someone else, who didn't experience my childhood for me, reveal that I don't already know?
On the few occasions where I have looked up what a particular dream meant the conclusion was that either I'm anxious, helpless or feeling powerless. Usually all three. That's not exactly new information.
Just once, I'd love to have a dream where I wake up with a solution. Most of the time I dream about worst-case scenarios and wake up in a panic. I'm relieved to discover the disaster didn't actually happen but essentially nothing's changed. The internal conflict is still there - only now I'm hyper aware of it. Who knew sleeping could be so exhausting.
Sometimes I'll have a dream where I get my work done and write something and then when I wake up it's such a let down. I'll spend the rest of the day trying to remember what I wrote in my dream but I never do. Eventually I'll give up and look forward to going to bed hopeful that maybe I'll have t he same dream again. I never do.
If there's a bad dream to be had - I've had it. Teeth falling out, standing naked in the classroom, falling off a cliff, being chased - sometimes I worry because I can feel myself in my dreams worrying about the dream as it's unfolding. That can't be good. Bugs again? I know where it's going. My unconscious life is so predictable.
My friend Louise has started reading Carl Jung on dreams and symbols, and now she likes to pretend she's a dream analyst. People eat it up, because it's all about them. It doesn't matter that she really has no idea what she's talking about.
I told her I saw crickets in my dream and she told me this means I'm seeking guidance. I pressed for more details. "Did you hear them too?" She asked. When I said yes, she said that meant I'm letting minor things bother me. I'm just glad I wasn't paying her.
I've noticed that my female friends are a lot more invested in their dreams and discussing them than my male friends. I can't remember the last time a man said to me I had the worst dream - want to hear it?" The only dream men seem to want to tell you about is a sex dream and I always think they're making it up.
Growing up in the 70's someone once gave me a Dreamcatcher to hang above my bed. Originating from Native Americans - it's a handmade woven hoop with a web in the middle that dangles feathers and beads. The idea behind it was good dreams pass through the cent re and bad dreams got trapped in the web. The feathers made me sneeze. Then I woke up one morning and you know what was trapped in the web? A cockroach.