I am conflicted about dreams.
On one side sits my psychology prof from college. She says that dreams are nothing more than random firings of neurons in my brain that occur during REM sleep as a way to help the body regenerate and re-organize.
On the other side, there is the 7th grade me, who bought books like The Secret Language of Birthdays and wants to believe with all her might that everything I dream means something more significant and prophetic than anything I could ever think up on my own.
Whenever I wake up the next morning and really think about my dreams, I turn in the 7th grade me and my dreams seem to really mean something. I remember in 7th or 8th grade when we had a very stormy summer, and I woke up one morning having dreamed of tornadoes ripping through the countryside near my house. Now this wasn’t a stretch of a dream – I was in my “tornado chaser” phase and lived for the summer months. But later that day we did see tornadoes rip through the nearby countryside, causing a lot of damage, and I thought back to my dream and felt like Nostradamus.
But every time I think of my dreams this way, every time I write them down or think about what each element in them could symbolize, I hear the voice of my prof again. “Random. Neurons. Firing.” They mean nothing, Kate, they are simply biological.
I consider myself a pretty skeptical person, on the whole. I cannot wrap my head around religion. I have come to terms with the fact that there are no zombies, or vampires, or ghosts – at least not like in the movies. There has been evidence of water, etc. on other planets and this is a very large universe, so the verdict is still out on aliens. But I digress. I think I’m having a problem with the meaning of my dreams because I don’t want to fall into that camp. I don’t want to suddenly be someone who’s buying dream dictionaries and making large life decisions based on what happens during REM sleep.
But by trying so hard to stay out of this camp, doesn’t that mean I might be missing what could be nothing more than a great way to explore some repressed feelings? I just read over a dream I had months before my wedding, in which I discovered that squirrels had taken over the reception and invited all the wrong people and had put “No Gifts” on the invitations. There must have been some reason I wrote this dream down. I was obviously nervous about planning a wedding. Was the dream a way for my body to calm me down, with humor and squirrels?
So I remain conflicted about dreams, but I think I can stay short of crossing the line to “Crossing Over” status by remaining rational about them, and think of them as somewhere in between random and prophetic – maybe they are just what the X-Files said they were: “answers to questions we haven’t yet figured out how to ask.”