Monday, November 10, 2008

What's in a dream?

A response to Th's inquiry here.

Most mornings I wake with little or no memory of any dreams I might have had during the night. In fact, when memories of a dream persist beyond regaining consciousness, I rarely hold onto them longer than it takes to pour myself a bowl of Capt'n Crunch. By my own experience, I would probably seem to be more skeptical of most people gaining anything of significant value from their dreams.

Contrary to what it might seem, I do believe we could all gain a lot if we could harness and fully comprehend those things we observe in our dreams. The dreams I can recall are seldom presented in cinematic detail. Instead, I am presented with disjointed pictures (some motion, some static) and sound. While some of the dreams I recall were silent black and white pictures, others have been 360° panoramic monstrosities complete with surround sound.

Deciphering meaning from these dreams is seldom easy. I remember waking from a dream while I was living in Japan. This dream was one of the more vivid. The dream depicted a moment in time just before a tsunami was to make landfall. It was not a normal tsunami. The spectacle of the event was drawing crowds of monumental size. I found myself running from person to person trying to warn them to leave the beach, decrying the foolishness of giving into their human yet morbid nature of curiosity.

I succeeded in convincing just a few would be spectators to seek higher ground. Leaving the terrible yet awe striking sight for safety, I turned my back on those that would not heed my call.

I woke from the dream in confusion. This dream was too vivid. In fact, 25 years later, I still remember the dream as if I had just had it. I could not parse its meaning or even if it had one. However, the pattern of forgetfulness did not repeat itself with this dream. Not only did it persist through my morning bath, I remembered it long enough to record it the next day. Yes, I took the time to actually record this dream in my journal.

I could not tell if the dream held any special properties beyond my ability to recall it. Years later after returning home, the dream seemed to hold some value beyond the vividness with which it was presented.

I dreamed the dream in the first months of my mission. I was blessed on my mission. The average missionary would return home after two years, only witnessing two baptisms. An article in the Los Angeles Times reported Japan as being the "Mount Everest of Missionary work". I felt the joy of meeting many times the average converts for a two year mission. Still, I felt as though I was struggling against severe odds. I felt an urgency that I had problems relating to those with whom I would speak.

I returned home feeling that my efforts were nearly in vain. A young mother and her children met me at the train station on my way to Tokyo. She expressed deep appreciation for my choosing to serve a mission. Although I've always contended that had I not been there someone else would have, she would not believe me. She knew it was only because I brought them the spirit that she learned of the truth. I could not convince her otherwise.

Years later, I was reading through my journal when I came upon the entry which contained the dream. It was only then that I realized this dream was a metaphor. My mission was very much like my experience on that beach. Millions of people had to be warned; only a few heeded that warning.

Do all dreams have such vivid interpretations? I do not think they do. Do all dreams have something to tell us? Maybe. Maybe not. We're told dreams are just visions of the work our brains are doing at night while we are sleeping - a logical description of a dream.
Post a Comment