I don’t trust people who swear they never dream. Everyone does. It’s how your brain processes the never-ending stimuli of the day, cleaning out the garbage, arranging what you’ve seen and heard into nightly visions— joyous, horrific, awe-inspiring, puzzling, and often just plain crazy. The human mind can’t handle everything thrown at it. Without this regular cleansing, scientists say, you’d descend into madness.
So the issue isn’t whether you dream or not. It’s about remembering. Most people don’t. Some keep a bedside journal, hoping to make sense of their nocturnal fancies come morning, often with the aid of a dream dictionary. Others use it to capture creative sparks. Stephanie Meyer claims the inspiration for her Twilight books came in a dream. I wrote a fantasy based on one, although the finished product took a much different path than the original idea.
I’d wager everyone has at least one dream they’ll never forget. Often it’s a nightmare, replete with monsters that symbolize your deepest fears. Ages ago, when I belonged to a fundamentalist sect, howling demons invaded my sleep and drooled over me as I huddled in bed, sheets drawn over my head. Interesting how those fiends disappeared when I left the church.
Even something as seemingly innocuous as a theme-park ride could serve as a trigger. My family used to visit Disneyland every summer. Once, when I was ten or so and paired with my favorite niece for the Snow White and her Adventures, ride our mine cart jolted to a halt just as the wicked stepmother—in her most loathsome, cackling, witchy form—turned from her cauldron to hold out a poisoned apple. The task of comforting my weeping companion kept me from losing it then and there, but for weeks afterward, I’d wake up in a sweat, waiting for my heart to stop thundering after yet another replay of that scene, made more fearsome with an even witchier hag looming over the two of us.
I’m happy to report my dreams took on a mellower tone as the years passed. I soared above treetops on magic wings, swooped down into emerald-bright valleys. The awkwardness of youth vanished as I danced and leapt across stages with the grace of a gazelle. And I began to include others, imagining success for all, a future in which we all thrived.
That isn’t to say my anxieties have stayed hidden. There are plenty of times I’ve found myself naked or missing the last flight/train/bus because I can’t get packed in time. Oddly, those often happen in Rome, where I fret that I haven’t seen enough before I’m due to leave.
I can’t recall ever dreaming in black-and-white. Everything is brilliantly hued, as if my mind can’t wait to explode beyond the ordinary. I once wrote a gushing fan letter to author Victoria Strauss about PASSION BLUE, a color featured in her book of the same name, when it appeared in a mansion I dreamed up, vibrant and awe-inspiring. Such is the power of words.
So don’t tell me you never dream. Try to remember yours. Keep a notebook by your bed and write down whatever you recall, no matter how slight or insignificant it may seem. Your mind is a magnificent thing. It may speak to you in riddles, but what a journey you’ll have seeking the answers!