September 13, 2023 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

What does it mean when you suddenly disappear in a dream?

I recently dreamed that I walked into a quiet, ordinary living room and was looking around. The room had white walls and white furniture, sort of like this photo:

Photo of a room with white walls and furniture.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Then my body vanished from the scene, but somehow, I was still there looking at the room. While I was trying—without much success—to make sense of how that could have happened, I woke up.

I’ve been wondering how to interpret that dream, and my best guess is that I feel lost in ordinary routine, searching for myself against a backdrop of plain white walls. Where do I want to be, really? And how do I keep myself from disappearing before I find it?

Of course, many of us are having such thoughts these days—so I’d say that dream was a sign of the times.

May 9, 2023 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I woke up in the middle of the night, face down with my arms stretched out wide, in Superman position. I felt as if I had been flying. But unlike Superman, I did not have long-range vision to see everything on the ground. Instead, everything below me was foggy, and I had no idea what was down there.

Photo of fog over treetops.

That didn’t worry me, though. It seemed like a good thing, actually, because I was in motion and not stuck in some tiny, isolated spot way down in the trees. Maybe I didn’t know where I was going, but at least I had the potential of finding somewhere better. Super possibilities ahead!

April 17, 2023 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Several times in the past week I’ve had dreams in which I am walking along a hallway or up a staircase. Sometimes it is dark, but there is light ahead. I wake up with a clear spatial memory of the area and some visual details, but I have no idea of my destination.

Black and white image of a dark staircase with light shining down.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

I meant to write a dream-interpretation post over the weekend, about being on a journey with much to be discovered. That post never got written, though, because I wasn’t in the best mood on Sunday. I went to get groceries in the early afternoon, with a storm blowing in and the temperature rapidly dropping. I made it back to my car just as the rain was beginning to fall, which was all right, but the house felt kind of blah when I got home with howling winds outside. Soon afterward, past grudges and self-pitying thoughts crawled out of their subconscious lair, leaving me grumpy for the rest of the day.

On the way back from the supermarket, I had been listening to the old song “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe. Somehow it got into my sleep on Sunday night. I dreamed that I was a murderer who poisoned a young woman. Other people in the house hadn’t yet realized she was dead; they thought she was just sleeping later than usual. I was wondering if I ought to leave the house or if that would be too suspicious. Maybe it would be better to stay there and play innocent? I hadn’t yet decided when I woke up.

That one is harder to interpret, but I’m guessing that the murder victim is my poor pitiful younger self who disturbed me with memories of feeling like a powerless victim on Sunday. Rather than showing compassion for this past version of me, I probably had a subconscious wish to kill her off! As for wondering whether to leave the scene of the crime, maybe I felt conflicted about owning such feelings. Anyway, writing this all down might help me to sort through them.

February 1, 2023 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I dreamed about living in an apartment complex where the management cut down some trees and shrubs, which left me unhappy. That seems easy enough to interpret. Apartment buildings in dreams generally represent the social environment, and I’d guess that the removal of landscaping has to do with how quickly the world has been changing. Even when we like something new, there is a sense of loss for what has been left behind, and often it is not within our control.

After I woke up, I had an old song by Jackson Browne running through my mind, in which he wishes that his audience could “stay just a little bit longer.”

Of course, I wouldn’t really want the world to stay the same forever. There are some pretty amazing discoveries being made in modern times, and I’m enjoying the adventure, for the most part. Still, every once in a while, some little sentimental item triggers those “just a little bit longer” feelings.

When I went on vacation with my husband the last week of February, we brought along a rowing machine—a Concept2 RowErg, which has the advantage of being easy to take apart and move. It fit reasonably well in the back of my husband’s SUV with one of the back seats folded down and our daughter in the other seat, with her little dog on her lap. Arranging the suitcases around the RowErg was manageable, and the boats and bicycles went on a trailer.

Our plan was to row our double scull on the Florida Intracoastal Waterway for a week, so as to get back in practice after being off the water during the cold northern winter, and then race in a regatta on Sunday, February 27th in Sarasota. The regatta was smaller than usual because a circus had taken up much of the space in the county park where it was held, but we still had good competition. Bringing the erg to Florida allowed us to keep up with the winter fitness schedule our online coach had given us.

We set up the erg on a screened back porch of the house where we stayed. The view of the bay was gorgeous. Before rowing on the water in the early afternoon, we did our workouts on the erg in the morning, while the temperature was still reasonably cool.

I still felt like I was wilting in the Florida humidity, though. After being indoors all winter, I wasn’t at all used to it. A demanding workout on Wednesday morning, which focused on more strength at a slower rate, left me totally dripping with sweat and grumbling to myself about how I could’ve been so crazy as to be a fitness freak while on vacation.

The afternoon rows on the water were easier. We just paddled around with the dolphins and enjoyed the sunshine and the lovely scenery. Then we rode our bicycles in the late afternoon, on a path that ran beside the Gulf Coast for part of the way. It felt like a great, relaxing vacation—but for self-inflicted erg misery.

When race day finally came, though, I gained more appreciation for the daily workout schedule. Sprinting for the 1K distance that is standard for Masters races didn’t seem nearly as long, or as hard, as in past years. I was able to keep the pace more even, and each stroke felt more powerful. When I looked to see how far I had gone on the course, thinking that I was about halfway, I was surprised to see that my boat was already two-thirds of the way to the finish line. In the single, I was far ahead of my competitor in the next lane; and in the double, we nosed in front of a team that always used to beat us handily at regattas.

Now I feel as if I am recalibrating—that is to say, tossing out old assumptions about my limits and getting used to having a healthier and more capable body. My husband just signed us up to row our double next month in an open 2K sprint with a younger field of competitors, which we haven’t done before. We may not win, or even place, but it will be a good experience no matter what happens; and I’m not going to make any limiting assumptions before we even try.

After we got back home, I had a weird dream in which I lived in a messy apartment. A circus started setting up on the grounds of the apartment complex, like what happened with the regatta at the park. I left the apartment and came back to find that the building where it had been, just a few hours earlier, was no longer there. I saw a construction worker walking by and asked him what had happened. He told me that the apartment building had been temporarily disassembled to make space for the circus and would be put back together afterward.

There’s plenty of fodder for dream interpretation in that one!

I had a somewhat garbled dream in which I was going on adventures, but I had to do it on a schedule, for reasons I couldn’t remember when I woke up. That brought back a memory of how, as a child, I had thought adults’ carefully planned schedules were beyond ridiculous.

At first, the dream didn’t seem like it meant anything in particular. When it came to mind again, though, I decided to take a few minutes to visit my imaginary younger selves in Channelwood village. I was curious about what they thought of adventures and schedules. The two youngest children, seven-year-old Ponch and five-year-old Peter, were playing on a rocky hillside near the beach.

Although it was winter in Channelwood as in real life, the island’s milder climate made it feel more like spring. Ponch had on the woven poncho that inspired the nickname, and her companion wore a favorite green jacket that suited the Peter Pan persona. A large basket, tilted at a rather precarious angle, rested on the ground beside the children.

“What adventures do you have on your schedule for today?” I made my way down the hillside toward them, half expecting to be told I was asking a silly grown-up question.

“We’re taking care of a baby dragon.” Ponch spoke in a cheerful tone that suggested she found no fault with my choice of words. “Want to see?”

Before I had time to answer yes or no, she already had lifted the basket’s lid just a little, giving me a peek at its inhabitant. Looking back at me was, curled in a corner, what appeared to be a small and very ordinary-looking lizard. The floor of the basket was lined with sand, twigs, and rocks.

Lizard with body and tail curling in opposite directions.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

A shallow bowl, evidently intended as drinking water, had mostly spilled into the corner opposite the lizard because of the basket’s careless placement on the slope. Ponch quickly shut the lid again, before the lizard could get any ideas of escaping—although it didn’t look motivated to do anything but go back to sleep.

“How do you tell the difference between a baby dragon and an ordinary lizard?” While I certainly wasn’t trying to put a damper on the children’s pretending, I did wonder what explanation they might give for the creature’s lack of wings.

“All baby dragons start out as ordinary lizards,” Peter announced, in an earnest, professorial tone. “To change into dragons, first they have to be sprinkled with fairy dust at sunrise. After that, they have to be kept in a basket all day, so that they don’t fly away before their wings are grown. Also, they need to drink a magic potion. Then, after sunset, the basket has to be opened just as the moon is rising. When the moonlight first touches the dragon, the wings grow to their full length, and the dragon flies off to learn the ways of dragons in a far-away land.”

“And then,” Ponch put in, filling out the day’s schedule with more practical details, “Sara will call us for dinner. Because it is still winter, sunset comes early. We’re having fish for dinner; Queenie caught them this morning. Ella makes the best baked fish, yum.”

“Sounds good,” I agreed. “I’d say your adventures have a well-planned schedule. Better than my grown-up chores.”

Ponch gave me a smile in return. Peter’s dismissive shrug, meanwhile, made plain the very idea of being grown up didn’t merit a moment’s thought.

When I went down to the river on Monday evening to row with my husband, the earlier sunset made plain that autumn was coming, although the scorching days haven’t felt at all like it. I’d been outside in my backyard during the afternoon, setting up a soaker hose to water what little there is left of my poor bedraggled willows. Before climate change hit, I had a lovely willow hedge all along my back property line, but not much remains of it anymore.

On Tuesday morning I woke up after dreaming that I was walking alone in a clearcut forest. All the way to the horizon, I saw nothing but stumps and dry, dead weeds. The heat was intense, and I heard no sounds at all—not even crickets.

Clearcut forest

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

I thought of it again later that day—but this time, I wasn’t alone in the unwelcoming scene. My satirical future self Kass was perched on a stump, wearing very short jogging shorts and a skimpy tank top with a built-in bra. The cap shading her face had a bright red logo proclaiming APOCALYPSE-R-US in bold letters.

“Yeah, right, Kass, you would think this was funny,” I grumbled.

Kass bounced up from the stump, with dead leaves crunching under her flip-flops. “Let’s go for a little stroll through the Forest of Collective Angst,” she suggested cheerfully.

Dust rose around our feet as we made our way through the desolate landscape. Other than the occasional small hill or dip, there was nothing to distinguish one place from another. After we had been walking for a few minutes, we crossed a dry gully full of pebbles and silt. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a skeleton or two, but I didn’t even see any dead insects. Everything looked totally lifeless.

“Okay, so was I supposed to have learned anything from this?”

Wiping sweat from her forehead, Kass replied, “Well, now, that’s up to you, isn’t it? I’m just a projection of your overactive imagination, after all. But, given that I am you in the 2040s, the fact that I’m alive and in reasonably good shape means that the world as we know it hasn’t collapsed. You haven’t perished of starvation in a howling wilderness. Right?”

I thought for a moment about disputing the point because, obviously, my imagination—however active—wasn’t in charge of what might happen to the world in real life. However, I didn’t really feel like arguing about my chances of dying in a hellish future, so I kept quiet as we slowly trudged up another little hill and started down the other side.

“So—what does the world look like in your time?” I finally asked.

We took a few more steps and went around a particularly large stump before Kass stopped to glance down at a scraggly dandelion that had sprouted in its shade. One stalk held a seed ball. Plucking it, Kass held it to her lips and blew, her eyes closing as if to make a wish. The tiny bits of fluff drifted away on an almost imperceptible breeze.

“We’re still reseeding,” she answered quietly.

August 10, 2021 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I’ve had some dreams recently about moving on with life. On Monday morning, I dreamed that I had moved out of a house and that the new owners changed everything around, so that it became almost unrecognizable. They planted ivy that grew to cover the walls.

Photo of house with ivy on the front walls.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Then I had the “first day in a new school” dream this morning. You know, the one where you’re walking through a big crowded hall just before the first class starts, and feeling like you’ll never find your way to the classroom and will be doomed to wander around forever like a ghost.

Dreams like that always have to do with getting used to change. We’ve all had to contend with far too many disorienting events over the past year, and there is no magic wand to put things back to normal. Instead, like a student at a new school or a homeowner who has moved to a different house, we just have to learn what we can, in the place where we are—however strange it feels.

December 8, 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Over the weekend, I had a dream that didn’t make much sense to me at first. I was in a supermarket with a cart full of groceries, but instead of going through the checkout line normally, I was standing at a small counter off to the side. My cart was somewhere behind me, and I was holding a pack of three steaks and arguing with an employee who said I couldn’t buy them. I got angry, threw the steaks down on the counter, and told the employee she could put all the groceries in my cart back on the shelf because I just wanted to leave. Then she said, in an apologetic tone, that she didn’t want me to feel I had to leave with nothing.

No incident like that ever happened to me in real life. Although the supermarkets were limiting their meat sales earlier this year because of the pandemic, my husband was doing almost all of the grocery shopping at that time, and he is enough of a carnivore to make sure we always had meat for dinner. And even if I had been caught trying to buy too much meat when supermarkets were rationing it, which did not happen, I certainly wouldn’t have been obnoxious enough to yell at an employee who was just doing her job by enforcing the rules.

So, I interpreted the steaks in the dream not as actual groceries, but as a symbol of keeping my family well fed and cared for (the steaks were in a family pack). But who, or what, was trying to interfere? I pondered that for some time and finally decided that the employee and the groceries represented this year’s disruptions. If my subconscious mind just wanted to put 2020 back on the shelf, I wouldn’t be the only person with such feelings! Sometimes it felt like an endless walk downward on steps leading nowhere.

Steps leading down through a foggy brown forest.

(Image credit: Philip A. Benyola, Jr.)

But as I understand the dream’s ending, it had a more straightforward, literal meaning—that I shouldn’t feel I was leaving this year with nothing. This has been a year in which I’ve gained more appreciation for the simple comforts of home and family. Also, I feel much better grounded. Last year’s worries have mostly faded to insignificance. As the year comes to an end, I have many reasons to feel blessed.

Early this morning, while it was still dark, I woke up with the Carly Simon song “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” in my head. That song is almost 50 years old, but I’d heard it recently on XM radio when I went to get my hair done. The lyrics are about married couples who do not live happily ever after.

Usually songs don’t get to me that much, but it seemed like I was lying awake for over an hour, feeling profoundly saddened by the lines “Their children hate them for the things they’re not. They hate themselves for what they are…”

According to my Fitbit, which I regularly wear at night to track my sleep, I was dreaming most of that time and wasn’t in fact awake for more than a few minutes. But, however long I was really awake before morning (another dark and chilly almost-November day) arrived, the song left me brooding about how harshly our culture teaches us to judge both others and ourselves.

Maybe it’s the political situation right now that has my thoughts running along such paths. When so many people feel that they are always being judged and falling short of expectations, no matter how much effort they put into doing what they “should,” then it’s no wonder they feel angry about life being unfair.

I am not going to judge anyone for being angry, as doing so only compounds the problem. Still—from my own perspective on the way things should be—I’d like to believe that most of us, both when voting and more generally, can set aside that anger and instead look toward what’s needed to heal.