All you have to do is dream, the Everly Brothers promised. If only it were that simple. She’d never once dreamt of Bill, though she’d often tried—poring over old photographs, pulling up memories. All she had now were memories and an empty bed.
Have you ever wished for a dream or tried to dream about something? Experts say that dreams express what is on our minds. Dreams are stories we tell ourselves. So, in theory, if we fill our minds with something before bedtime, we should dream about it, right? In my experience it doesn’t work that way.
Do you remember your dreams? My husband claims not to remember them. I usually do, often in great detail. Some dreams are common to people all over the world. Here’s how four universal dreams manifest themselves in the western world:
* The School Dream (Unpreparedness)
It’s time for final exams, and you realize you’ve forgotten to attend any of the
classes. Or all your books are in your locker, and you can’t remember the
* The Flying Dream (Aspirations)
You have the ability to fly or to float above the ground. In my version, it’s
not so much flying as “treading air.” And I can surf down a staircase in a
single bound. Now that’s fun.
* The Clothing Dream (Inadequacy, Embarrassment)
You leave the house for the day, only to discover that you haven’t put on
quite enough clothing. Yikes.
* The Chase Dream (Fear)
Someone is chasing you, but you’re running through molasses. Or you’re
stuck in slow motion.
* The Repeated Act Dream (Frustration)
There’s something you must do, like phone someone. But you keep
misdialing. You try again and again but never succeed.
“A dream is a wish your heart makes,” Cinderella famously sang in Disney’s classic movie. Dreams often express our hidden desires or fears. The famous opening line in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is an example: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” When my husband and I were raising children and unable to travel, I often dreamt I was in Europe. Sometimes, in the dream, I’d wonder if I was dreaming, so I’d pinch myself and think, “Nope, this time I’m really here.”
People dream differently. Some dreams are quite realistic. Others are bizarre—new worlds in which the laws of nature are suspended. Some people even dream in symbols or metaphors. A friend of mine, on the eve of sending her oldest child off to college, dreamt that her daughter was literally tied to her apron, and she had to get a giant scissors to cut the string. In the Bible, God often spoke to people in dreams. Some people think He still does. The Apostle Paul, for example, was trying to take the Gospel north and east until he was redirected by the vision of a man saying (Acts 16:9), “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” He woke up, and the Gospel went west to Europe.
Some dreams are hard to shake off. Another friend dreamt once that her very sweet husband had done something really mean. The next day she had a hard time forgiving him. Who hasn’t woken from a dream, relieved that it isn’t real, and yet the memory and emotions persist? Sometimes dreams are so wonderful that we hope to pick up where we left off the next night. Never happens.
Many people have repeated dreams. Here are two of mine.
1. The Teaching Nightmare
For twenty-four years I’ve taught a large women’s Bible study during the school year. Every year in August I have my teaching nightmare. Usually it’s the first day of class, and I’ve forgotten to prepare a lecture. Or I’ve forgotten to get leaders. Or we’ve changed meeting locations, but I don’t know where. Once I dreamt that my lecture notes fell off the podium, and I just couldn’t get them back in order so everybody had to go home. I’ve had the dream so often now, I laugh about it.
2. The Sub-Human People Dream (weird alert)
Just had this one two nights ago. I come upon colonies of people who aren’t quite human and have sub-human intelligence but their own culture. They look like people except they’re a funny color and sort of triangular shaped with tapering heads on which they wear colorful striped hats resembling a Turkish fez. They’re not scary. Just strange and fascinating. And they have a name which I never can remember when I’m awake. Something like “Mosers.”
Last week I read a blog listing the “Top Ten Ways Not to Begin Your Novel.” Number 4 was waking up from a dream. Maybe, like the famous final episode of The Bob Newhart Show, it’s a better way to end.
Do you have interesting or unusual dreams? Repeated dreams? I’d love to hear about them.