Friday, 8 November 2013

Are dreams important?

3 nights dreams 11/1975
Having remembered a couple thousand dreams, I say they matter as much as waking actions despite being published in a different medium.  Most of what we do is relatively unimportant, maybe all of it, and dreams are the same.

If you lie in the snow to make snow angels, a pattern forms in the snow and stops.  The same done in water has snow angel shape but swiftly spreads over the whole pool with rebounds and shore noises added.

Most waking action is like making a snow angel. The environment responds but settles down when you stop striving.  Most sleeping action is like the water angel and changes characters and landscapes in a make-believe land.  The changes are astonishing compared to waking life but generally mundane considering how plastic the dream medium is.

There are two corollaries:
Dream choices can be as important as waking choices, despite their odd settings.  I think the issue of character is at work both awake and asleep.  My father died when I was a teenager and later I'd occasionally dream he walked in the front door from work and the whole dying thing was a misunderstanding. Once in a dream, I got to thinking this had tricked me before.  To be very sure Dad was alive this time, I concentrated on lifting my dream leg and quietly opened my eyes, wide-awake, lifting my leg from the bed.  This is an example of a dream event that is also a character-shaping event.

The other corollary is:  If dreams are so similar to waking thought processes, despite the differing medium, the dream data of a lifetime must still be there in our memory.  Why do we forget so many dreams?   Memory is sometimes classified in three, a short term cellular one lasting less than a second, a longer one that lasts long enough to read and dial a phone number and longer lifetime memory.  Every dream I bother noticing gets into long term memory. I have a theory.  

Who we think we are determines what we remember.   What personality can survive the cognitive dissonance between our public life and our dream life which often has the same cast of characters?   Open affection, violence, exaggerated fear and courage, sex, disrespect, and floating through the air!        The memory stuff that won't fit a normal public life,  doesn't get access.  It's there in the database but marked "Do not use".

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