Thursday, September 1, 2011

free therapy

shadow and light. long straight hallways. faces. doorways. empty streets. parking lots filled with cars. rooms connecting to rooms in maze-like clusters. this is what i see. these are on the ragged edges of my dreams.

one of my best friends in high school had a great dream memory. she could zero in on the details. some of her dreams were very short; others long. sometimes her dreams were funny, other times they were full of drama. many of her dreams involved the boys she was interested in. sounds stupid, the stuff silly teenage girls are made of, but the way she recalled her dreams made me feel like i was on some kind of wild roller coaster ride. who knows, maybe her dreams really weren't that interesting and i just thought they were all those years ago.

some people can do that, remember the vivid details of their dreams if they think about them right away when they wake up, and if they then make an effort to commit them to memory. other people, like my husband, rarely recall a dream. (but when he does remember one, it is often rather entertaining. he always insists he doesn't dream. pshaw! everybody dreams.)

i used to be able to latch on to my dream life and it would almost always stick with me, but lately it has been slipping away. i've been having more difficulty remembering my dreams; even when i first wake up, when i try to reel in that night's dreams they sometimes wriggle away from me and slink back into the dark depths of my mind.

but i know my nights are filled with many fragmented, disjointed visions, slices of people and scenes which swirl around in my dreamscape and madly tumble toward me in the darkness. sometimes i wake up sweaty and breathless, wondering where i've been. i keep a little notebook and pen on my bedside table and if i can remember my dream and if i feel like it at some crazy hour in the middle of the night, i will occasionally jot down a few notes. i looked over some of these shards of memory the other day and it's amazing how a few quick, messily written, words will jolt you—well, me anyway—into remembering how a dream looked.

the dream world is a weird place. you close your eyes and your brain blips with all kinds of bizarre and what seems like disorganized electrical activity, but oftentimes your dream sleep ends up becoming a kind of free therapy session, as if you have spent time talking to someone and working out issues. you wake up refreshed, your thoughts more organized, like a burden has been lifted. another night you might be fortunate enough to get a ticket to some nice exotic place where you can be anyone, have anything you want. oolala, what fun!

or dreams can be frustrating experiences; i oftentimes have difficulty finding what i am looking for. then i wake up more in a muddle than sorted out. or i have rapid-fire dreams, compilations of fragments—one unrelated, fast-paced vignette after another. then look out, there are the ones that creep in during the wee hours well past midnight and on toward morning when i arrive at the station and board a train bound for some hellish location populated by ghastly strangers or unidentifiable creatures that make me cry out in terror. where do those startling visions come from? right after a dream like that i feel like i could use some real therapy.

luckily, once you shrug off your sleep and get going in the morning it all fades away and you can't remember what all the fuss was about.

dreams are like skyscrapers pulsing with your brain's activity, bustling with the night-shift workers of your mind. while you sleep your soul is working overtime, diligently occupied in its cubicle, hunched over and busily chronicling the unnoticed mental scraps which were flying around in your head while you were awake.

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