When I was little, I suffered from nightmares. In order to fall asleep, I came up with a system: I imagined that inside my brain, there was a dream spiral. A bad thought, maybe a monster from a movie or a snippet of crime news, would enter the spiral then begin a slow roll towards the center where it would mutate into a vivid nightmare. I believed that recalling a bad thought would send it back to the entrance, therefore staving off the dream. So as I waited to fall asleep on my top bunk, I listed every bad thought I could think of: King Kong, the break-in up the block, Cleopatra’s deadly asp.
One night, when Ronan was afraid to go back to sleep because of a nightmare, I shared this childhood notion of mine. I drew it out on a piece of paper, so he could see where each scary thought might lurk. The other night he was very upset about the shootings in Arizona. It was the first bit of bad news I had chosen to share with him. He caught me watching CNN and I didn’t turn it off. I figured he would hear about it at school and I thought knowing some of the details might explain why I’ve always been opposed to guns. Big mistake. He was terrified and has had to employ the dream-spiral all week.
I too have been dreaming this week, but thankfully not about shootings or guns. Two nights ago I dreamt that I was flying around Park Slope, Brooklyn, like a bird. I could see into all these fabulous penthouse apartments with large balconies. As I peeked in each one, I thought, I could live here. Around every corner there was another fab top-floor 3 bedroom. In the dream, I decided to call a real estate agent the next time I was in town.
The next morning, the LA Times ran an article about how bad dreams help us cope, help us solve problems even. http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-recession-dreams-20110117,0,3021540.story
One woman described a nightmare she had in which monsters led her to beautiful house in the desert. The dream encouraged her to expand her online job search beyond Los Angeles. She found a job in Phoenix and relocated. According to the article, “The dream expanded her horizons.” As I drank my coffee, I couldn’t believe the coincidence. Was my Park Slope dream telling me to move?
Then last night, I dreamt that I was surfing on a super-long wave, like the recent five-mile long swell in Alaska. (Check out this video!) http://www.grindtv.com/surf/blog/23568/surfers%20in%20alaska%20ride%20waves%20for%20an%20astonishing%20five%20miles/
My wave ran along a pristine beach. Every time I dropped back down into it, I felt that surge of adrenaline and fear: would I make it down the face? Would I wipe out? Each time, I went for it and each time I carved a sweet turn. When I finally landed on the sand, I was stoked. “I just rode the longest wave,” I told all the other inhabitants of my dream. I had an awesome all over good feeling – like I’d conquered a five-mile wave
I’ve read that scary dreams help us overcome our fears. But what do the excellent dreams mean? Is there some ultimate wave out there waiting for me to ride?