Sunday, 22 May 2011

Am I Dreaming?

I want to write today about dreams, partly because i've been asked by a few people to stop writing about either football or politics all the time and the last thing i'd want to do is disappoint my select few readers and partly because i've ended up having three separate conversations about them in the past week.

As an aspiring writer and someone with an imagination that more often than not borders on the too active, i find dreams fascinating. The sheer creative energy that goes into the kind of dreams we have every night, whether we remember them or not, is fascinating to me. Every so often i've toyed with the idea of leaving a pad by my bed to jot down what i remember of my dreams most nights, but i never have due to a combination of fearing becoming too much of a walking cliché and a highly forgetful mind.

The first dream i really have much memory of is a reoccurring one i had when i was quite young, maybe 8 or 9. Now i want to stress that this is as i remember it now, a lot of years, information and brain cell destroying activities later but here goes.

I was at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, somehow walking along the top of those thin, sweeping inverse arches that run along the sides on a bright sunny day, traffic and the water both flowing a long way beneath me. I had this dream several times and every one of them i would suddenly lose my balance and fall, plummeting downwards at a terrifying rate towards the water. In the same way that dreams commonly play with the constraints of time, despite the speed of the fall i remember it taking a long time before the water came rushing up to meet me, the delay not taking away from the fear i felt as a fairly young child. However without fail i would wake up the moment just before i'd have hit the water to find that i had fallen out of bed. More than 10 years on i struggle to remember exactly how often i had this dream but i have a surprisingly clear memory of having had it often enough that i began to put some pillows and duvets and the like on the floor by my bed, so i must have had it a few times.

There's something really scary about reoccurring dreams, especially those that would probably be classified as nightmares, because you increasingly want to understand why you're having it, whether there's a message or a lesson there and what you can do to stop it haunting your sleep. It's why i'm glad that i had that dream as a young child because i wasn't able to question it in the way i would now.

I do believe that some dreams have meaning, the amount of dreams that i've had focussing either on things i'd been worried about or people i'd spent far too much waking time thinking about means i'd have to be naive and stupid to claim that all dreams are purely random. However i also think that everybody has an awful lot of dreams which are purely constructs of under used imaginations set free; i don't know what the science is behind dreams and as with love, passion and hope i don't want to, there are some things that though i acknowledge they have scientific and factual explanations, it's preferable to be able to enjoy them without reducing them to synapses and pheromones. However there's that often quoted idea that human beings only use half, or 30% or some other proportion of their brain, like i said i don't know how true that is but i do believe in the idea to some extent. You only have to compare the average thoughts we all have each day (facebook, food, coursework, job, etc) with the sheer range and bizarre potentials of the dream worlds we descend into each night to realise that it is at least true that we only use a set amount of our brain while awake.

I know that we only remember a certain amount of our dreams, i wish i could remember them all but i guess that would use up valuable thinking space that i use for deciding whether to buy another bar of 'milka' chocolate or remembering whether there's any fish fingers in the freezer. However i do remember a few and just to highlight the sheer variety that our sleeping selves are capable of creating i'm going to list a few of the ones that spring to mind. You'll probably be able to fathom a few of the causes or inspirations from them, some i'll be aware of, some i might have missed. As with the Golden Gate dream i can't honestly swear that i haven't in some way embellished or adapted the memories without knowing, but i'll describe them as honestly as i can.

  • Arguably the most traumatic dream i can remember having was set on an indistinct patch of moor land, bathed in fog and very cold. I was walking towards a coffin that was raised just above the ground. Once i reached it i looked inside and their was my father, dead. Now for a boy of 11, maybe 12, that was a damn scary dream to have and i remember waking up incredibly freaked out and having a strong urge to go check in my parents room to see whether he was alright. I think i did in the end do that, but i couldn't say with certainty that i did.
  • A couple of nights ago i dreamt that i was sat on a beach with a few friends watching people attempt to save some beached whales. Now though i definitely hadn't read the news story about the Pilot Wales that had become trapped on an island off of the coast of Scotland but i'm sure i must have noticed the headline somewhere because i don't really believe in coincidences and i can't believe a dream about beached whales and a news article about the exact same topic were unrelated.
  • I once dreamt i was playing for Nottingham Forest in a very important match, perhaps a cup final, and just as i was about to score a goal i'm fairly sure would have been the winning one i woke up experiencing the most intense pain in the toes of my right foot that i've ever experienced. It appears that i'd decided to physically mirror the action of taking a shot in the dream and managed to kick the wall next to my bed, VERY hard. It kind of took away from the euphoria of scoring an important goal for Forest; an event that unless Billy Davies happens to notice my talent in the next few years is sadly unlikely to be anything other than a dream. (I had to get in some reference to football somehow.)
  • Now this one is more a theme than a specific dream but i've had probably more than my fair share of dreams about zombie invasions and attempting to defend myself against that. A lot of them have seemed to revolve around going to my old school, Tapton, and hiding there. I have an image of hitting zombies with meter rulers but i have to wonder if that's at least partly inspired by the Shaun of the Dead snooker cue scene; either way, it's an image i'm keen to keep.
  • I've also unsurprisingly had the traditional 'stuck in the middle of a road unable to move as traffic approaches', 'forgetting an exam or important meeting' and 'being repeatedly rejected by someone you are attracted to' dreams. Incidentally i can't remember ever having the 'naked in a public place' dream but i'm sure that's waiting for the most traumatic moment it can rear it's ugly, clichéd head.
Dreams are fascinating and i look forward to a whole heap of classics to come.

Today's song is a song i've listened to more often than i'm proud of since first hearing it on a Lucozade advert. It's not the kind of song i can listen to in any scenario but it is definitely the kind i would love to hear in a club.

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