“Some people see things that are and ask, Why?
Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not?
Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.”
― George Carlin
I’ve been thinking about dreams lately; specifically my dreams. I’m not talking those irrational desires we all have for mankind to realize lasting world peace or that the Chicago Cubs will make it to the World Series in my lifetime. No, I’ve been thinking of something much more mundane; those dreams which all of us experience while we’re asleep, or in some cases while we’re attempting to maximize our productivity at work.
I know from my days as a psychology major that we all dream frequently; most people probably dream to some extent during every routine sleep cycle. But for some time, I haven’t really been aware of, or remembered, much in the way of detail regarding my dreams.
This is most likely due to the fact that dreams typically inhabit one’s short term memory and thus disappear in a wisp unless we awake and think about them quickly and long enough to move them into our long term memories. It’s sort of like drafting a blog post, but forgetting to save it to the hard drive before the power unexpectedly goes out and you lose it completely. Been there, done that.
Over the past few months, I’ve inexplicably begun to dream more frequently. Either that or I’m simply remembering more detail about the dreams that I’m having. I suspect that age may have an impact on how we dream and how well we remember those dreams that we have.
All of this has led me to recall and ponder over the one and only recurring dream that I’ve experienced during my life.
That dream stayed with me from the time that I was eight years old until I turned fourteen or fifteen. I must have had that particular dream ten or fifteen times during those years and I remember it in great detail to this day because it was so vivid.
Imagine that you’re watching a scene from a black and white movie. It’s dusk and before you is an empty two-lane highway running through a flat, largely treeless plain. Slowly you become aware of the growing sound of a very powerful and perfectly tuned automobile engine. In the distance, the car enters the scene from the right. It’s traveling at a very high speed.
The car is a large, brand-new sedan of no particular make. It’s in mint condition, almost as if it has just been driven off of the showroom floor. Its windows are opaque, giving no view of the car’s passenger(s). When the car draws even with the point from which you’re observing, the scene begins to pan along with the car as it continues speeding down the highway.
Almost imperceptibly, the monotony of the scene is broken as the car’s appearance slowly begins to change. The sound of the engine is not quite as smooth as it had been. The surface of the car begins to show evidence of accumulating dirt, scratches, and even a few dents. This degradation continues until the car has morphed from its original shiny, showroom new condition into that of a battered and worn car which appears ready for the junk yard. The throaty roar of the powerful, well-tuned engine has devolved until it sounds more like an ancient tractor, complete with sputters and backfires.
Just as it appears that the car will be able to go no farther, the scene changes in an instant. The car, now on its last legs (or is that tires) is well off of the highway, parked in front of a small, equally decrepit house which is surrounded by overhanging trees. There are no sounds, no evidence that anyone is either in the car or in the house. After a few moments, as dusk dissolves into night, the scene fades and the dream is over.
I don’t believe that dreams are anything more than images created by the random and spontaneous activity of neurons in our otherwise sleeping brains. I see no evidence that dreams are harbingers of events to come or have any specific meanings, but I’ve always been fascinated by the consistency of this particular dream. As I recall it, the events and details in the dream never varied. It was like watching a recording each time that I dreamt it.
I’m hoping that I may get the chance to experience the dream one more time. I’d really like to find out who’s driving the car and at whose house it’s parked.
One last thing, special thanks to Sigmund Freud for this post’s title.