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Dream On

I find dreams fascinating.

Not my own dreams though. I mean they might be quite interesting. In fact they could be amazingly exciting and prophetic or something. I just do not know, because rarely do I wake up with even the slightest remembrance of what the dream might have been about, never mind what might have transpired within it. I feel faintly cheated much of the time, as I know many people, including those very close to me, who seem to have a different experience of the matter, retaining at least some of what has been going on in their heads during sleep well into the period of wakefulness – sometimes even in quite a lot of detail. But I may have invented the solution for the World’s energy problems in my fantasy dreamscape, only to lose it again with the literal rude awakening of morning.

Sadly the only dreams I seem to recall are the ones with negative connotations – for example ones that are associated with occasional bouts of sleep paralysis, or ones that leave me deeply sad, the feeling leaching over even into wakefulness. For example, when I dream of late mother, and then realise once I wake up that she is indeed no longer with us. I recall the ‘falling’ kind of nightmares, although it is fair to say I have never knowingly dreamt about being naked in some public situation – although those of you how know me well will know that has been reality once or twice and therefore probably does not register on the humiliation feelings that allegedly this sort of dream is supposed to be about.

And in that last sentence is another question. As well as whether you remember your dreams or not, are they actually ‘about’ anything? Instinctively I feel there is a reason for them, as very little about our bodies and minds have no function at all. For some of course there is meaning in dreams – even profound meaning – but as I do not remember mine I will have to duck those arguments. What rather more fascinates me is the nature of the biology here, with the complexity of our brains and the way that data is processed and interpreted. My sleep paralysis incidents, for example, where I reach semi wakefulness without muscle control leads inevitably to feelings of dread and oppression, leading to the terror of something leaning over you, something you brain interprets as a threat that you cannot do anything about (because you are temporarily paralysed). The actual period of stress is only a few seconds, but it seems like an age. Now, the biology is clear enough; but the way my brain interprets the situation is out of my own lurid imagination. I do not find it hard to believe that in normal dreaming (if there is such a thing) a lot is to do with the way an individual tends to see and interpret the world and how, therefore, interprets the slightly odd inputs that it is receiving during sleep – because our bodies do not ‘switch off’ we are receiving input all the time, even if we are not aware of them consciously. Add that to the processing probably going on in the higher centres of the brain and that is a heady cocktail for some unusual fantasy scenarios. As I said at the start, it is fascinating.

Maybe I am lucky in not remembering most of my dreams. It is entirely possible that most of them are pretty negative and the conscious part of my brain does not want to remember. But then again; sometimes I feel it is a little bit of a shame to think that I might just have had the most fun (if weird) adventure and never remember just how good it was; I’m prepared to cope with a few bad dreams for that.

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