We wake in the early hours, unsure of where we are or where we have been. Something wild has just happened or maybe it was reassuring or revelatory. We reach over to the alarm clock, turn its face for a better view, and realize that we still have a couple hours of sleep ahead. Our head falls back on the pillow and for a few seconds we marvel. We have been dreaming.
Order in our days is laid aside when we dream. The juxtapositioning of events, desires and fears is commonplace in these sleeping journeys. Faces and feelings, incidents and accidents are intermingled. The emotion of one experience is linked to a person who has never been associated with that time or place. Rarely are dreams linear. The events are absurd.
Anxiety about upcoming events shows up in unique ways. A person getting married or preparing for an important job interview walks naked up the aisle, or stumbles into a conference or meeting in pajamas. Playing out anxiety at night relieves the worry that the sit-down wedding banquet will have enough dinner rolls, or the overheads and handouts for the meeting will be ready.
Running off with a co-worker or acquaintance in the middle of the night becomes laughable in the light of day. The impulses of our personality, controlled in daily living are given free rein in dreams. The connections made in reverie are random; feeling, person and experience are intermingled.
Sometimes dreams have rhymes and reasons. Psychologists see them as a way of opening the door to unresolved conflicts during waking hours. The contents of these nocturnal journeys are discussed and interpreted to shed light on adjustments clients need to make in their every day existence.
Dreams also draw from racial reservoirs. Many themes while seeming unique to the dreamer, are really messages spoken again in this life, at this time. Recurring motifs present us with a sense of continuity in our humanity. Light, darkness, fire and water, as well as primitive fear, viewed or experienced in a dream are not novel subjects. They are universal truths.
Dreams for the shaman or religious visionary point to another reality, grounded in life at the edge of awareness. For them time is when we stand between two worlds, one foot planted in the living and breathing universe of daily demand, the other testing the surface of another place. Coming to some accommodation with these through ritual, helps people make sense out of chaotic landscapes.
Mining the content of nocturnal reveries also provides fuel for creative thought, igniting the writer, painter or artisan to produce expressions unique but the same. Themes that emerge in the light cast by creative outbursts have been there for eons, but beg for a new voice. In giving speech to these visions, old dreams are reaffirmed and new ones awaken the potential in all of us.