Dreams are often described as an involuntary state of consciousness characterized by sounds, images, and emotional sensations experienced during stages of sleep. Experts admit there are many reasons why we dream; yet personally, I can seldom identify a single contributing factor to explain why I dream what I dream. And I do dream - unbelievably often.
Last night, for example, I awoke at 3:41 a.m. with a very vivid image of a darling little girl offering me wildflowers. She could not have been more than two years old and was wearing a simple prairie dress. Strangely, that image is the only memory I could muster from the dream. I cannot help but wonder what conjured such a vivid vision.
Dream interpretation began with the published theories of Sigmund Freud in 1899. While Freud seemed to focus only on repressed memories relating to sexuality, the study of dreams has evolved dramatically over the years. It is now recognized that dreams may allow your subconscious mind to analyze much of the information your conscious mind neglects to deal with while you are awake.
I have been watching the Revolutionary War series “Turn: Washington’s Spies” which might account for the basis of this particular dream, but I always worry about what I might be missing. Dreams and I have a precarious history. In junior high school at the age of twelve, I had a nightmare that proved to be more than just an analysis of my conscious thoughts. Let me explain.
I grew up in a quaint little General Motors town in Central Indiana. It was during a time when life was easy and prosperous. Everybody seemed to know everyone, and the small surrounding bedroom communities collaborated in the celebrations of local activities regardless of alliances. Football stands were packed in the fall; basketball gymnasiums were always standing room only during Hoosier Hysteria months and March Madness. Friends and neighbors attended and cheered whether they had kids in school or not.
The same was true of commencement. There was not a single graduation ceremony I did not attend growing up. It was a rite of passage that we observed and glorified. Every year the graduating class would march with pomp and circumstance into the high school gymnasium while what seemed like the entire town watched with prideful admiration. I loved being a part of it every year and dreamed of the day that I would take that hallowed walk while my family watched.
So, my junior high nightmare now takes on new meaning. In that dream, I was walking down the aisle at my high school graduation. I searched the crowd for my family and found my mother and brother glowing with pride, but I could not find my dad. I awoke gasping for breath and in tears fearful that my father would never see me graduate. They assured me it was just a dream.
Nearly six years later, however, that dream became a reality. One month to the day before my high school graduation we said our last goodbyes to my father. He lost his fight with heart disease. He did not see me graduate. I have had several occasions in my life when dreams aroused my curiosity with uncanny real-life similarities. I have also had many that were simply crazy figments of a wild imagination.
Now, I do not presume to have psychic abilities, nor do I presuppose that my dreams will accurately predict the future. But does any harm befall a dreamer in believing that guardian angels sometimes send messages through our dreams to prepare us for heartache or light a path to unexpected redemption? I think not. If I thought dreams consistently spoke undeniable truth, however, I would be priming my conscious brain to subconsciously deliver a dream of a record-breaking lottery win. My research is ongoing. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.