From the Archive: I Must Be Dreaming

My wife Shelly feels like I have the most vivid dreams of anyone she has ever met.

When I have one, and when I remember it in the morning, I try to tell her about it. Why? Because I have learned through my own graduate work in communication that unless you verbalize your dreams, they are likely to disappear. It has something to do with the portion that is used in dreaming, versus the brain portion that houses our memories.

Last night I dreamed that I had a white whisker on my chin that was sticking out and bothering me. I started pulling on it, and it grew and grew as I pulled on it until it was several feet long. Then I called Shelly over and she began to pull on it as well. Finally it came out, with two long whiskers attached to one very deep root.

Obviously, nothing profound there, but it stuck with me.

I have a recurring dream that is so real that I truly believe that if I concentrate I can levitate myself off the ground. I’ve actually tried it while awake; so far, no luck.

And I have the usual, typical stress dream of being a student, showing up for the last class of the semester and realizing that I haven’t read the textbook. Other variations of this are going to class but somehow not being able to find the classroom, and showing up in class–or at work–in my underwear.

Over the years, I’ve done quite a bit of reading on dreaming. As a child, I read a book by the mystic Edgar Cayce called “Dreams: Your Magic Mirror,” who took the approach that if we understood our dreams, we can make ourselves into much better people, and possibly communicate with the dead, or some such nonsense.  I’ve also heard that dreams are the brain’s way of cleaning house while you are asleep, so for the most part, we should ignore them. And then I have heard that the best person to interpret dreams is yourself.

For example, the showing up at work in your underwear has to do with stress and being embarrassed that people will see the real you. That’s my perspective, at least. And the levitation dream is simply believing that if one concentrates enough, you can accomplish anything. Whether the message is valid or not is beside the point. The message gets through for the most part.

The Bible talks a lot about dreams, and proposes that God often uses dreams to talk to us. Think about the dreams in Joseph’s story, in Daniel’s, and in Peter’s. What’s interesting is that they usually have to go to someone else to get an interpretation. Not sure what that’s about.

I occasionally dream in German, a language I learned almost 40 years ago. I have very little opportunity to speak German here in Texas, but that doesn’t stop my subconscious from using it to give me a fresh perspective in my dreams.

And here’s another interesting tidbit that I have no real explanation for. My father died in 1993. After his death, he began appearing regularly in my dreams. But it wasn’t until my mother died in 2006 that she joined him in my dreams. Sometimes I dream that my father is back with us, that we know he died, but for some reason he has returned. On occasion, I have talked to him in my dream, telling him that he has already died, and he can’t seem to explain why he is there.

I have thought a lot about why I dream about my parents. I wonder if people who have lost their parents dream about them as well. My theory is that they represent a part of my own personality to me: my father is my view of manhood; my mother probably stability in the family as well as living a godly life.

Perhaps it’s because I am a storyteller that I am so interested in dreams. God have given me vivid dreams for a reason, I believe. Maybe it has to do with my ability to tell stories.