Most of us are lucky enough to dream on a regular basis. Our brains don’t get as tired as we think they do—they’re up all night playing while we’re sound asleep in bed.
“Playing” is perhaps the best word. Very little in a dream ever makes sense. Of course, while you’re dreaming, everything makes sense, and only once you wake up do you realize just how strange your dream was.
We tend to have recurring dreams, or at least recurring elements in our dreams. There are the standards, of course: the falling dream, the lucid dream (the delightful kind where you know you’re dreaming), the dream about going through your whole day when you haven’t even woken up yet. Whether we remember them or not, most of us dream. No one is really sure why we dream, but we do, and they make for some interesting dinner conversations.
Dreams, as odd as they are, rarely cross the line into being an extraordinary dream. More often than not, we wake up quietly relieved that whatever happened in your dream didn’t or couldn’t possibly come true. Dreams tend to be the blooper real of what could happen in a typical day, if all social norms and laws of physics were suspended. Every face we see in our dreams are faces we’ve seen at some point in our lives, which is what makes dreams so confusingly “real.” They fall into a pattern of recurring symbols: the late-term-paper dream, the failed-the-final-exam dream, the where-am-I-and-what’s-going-on kind of dreams that we forget on the moment of waking.
But every once in a while, we’ll get a dream that is absolutely, breathtakingly wonderful.
I’ve had dreams that told complete stories, full of adventure and quick plot turns (andalittleromancebutwe’lloverlookthatmovingonnow). I’ve had dreams in which I am in some completely safe and peaceful place where all of my friends are sitting around and laughing. I’ve had dreams where a long-held wish comes true, or I have a conversation with a departed relative. The best dreams are the dreams you can control—where you’re fully aware that you’re dreaming and can make yourself fly, change the environment, alter the atmosphere, and go wherever you want with whoever you want to go with. I’ve had a handful of those, and let me tell you, they’re my favorites.
Those are the kind of dreams that even when you’re sort of awake, you squeeze your eyes tighter because you’re dying for the dream to continue.
Sadly, most of us get nightmares more often than we get dreams like that. If we had sweet dreams all the time, though, we’d get used to them. They wouldn’t be as special. An excellent dream is like a holiday for your brain—a kind of psychological Christmas. Our brains make dreams like that when they’ve had enough of the humdrummery and want something really, really special. Those are the dreams we’ll remember. Those are the dreams that lapse into waking and make the rest of the day a trifle brighter.
Regardless of what you dreamed last night or the day or the week before, may your dreams tonight, dear reader, be worth remembering.