The Bride had to shake me awake last night from a bad dream. It’s a common occurrence around here. This one was so bad it took several seconds to cut through the horror and I awoke with a shout.
I dream all the time.
All. The. Time.
Almost every night, and they aren’t all bad. Sometimes these dreams are recurring, putting me in places so familiar I know where streets intersect in these other worlds. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I dream of houses so often I can draw you the blue lines for construction.
The Bride and I always talk about our nighttime wanderings, for she has them on occasion, too. Many of these dreams find their way into my novels, such as one that became the foundation for my Red River novel, Unraveled. She had to wake me from that one, blubbering like a toddler and unable to discuss it for days.
Others are on the mental stove, bubbling along. She once had a dream about sixteen crosses in a front yard. I’ll do something with it some day and the title will be Sixteen Crosses, of course. That one could go anywhere.
With a hard deadline looming, I’m surprised I haven’t had the dream that fascinates me. The College Dream.
The Bride has her version and the more I investigate…
…and by that I mean I ask others at cocktail parties whether they’ve experienced the same ones by describing my own…
…I find that it’s universal among those of us who have ever been to college.
In mine, I’m walking across a dream campus (again one that I’m familiar with though it doesn’t exist) after parking much farther away than I’d like on the back row lined with pine trees (I guess I’m detail oriented). The features are so clear that if I was an artist, I could draw or paint it. Then I’m inside the building that’s vaguely familiar and I realize I’ve missed all the classes on one particular subject, (let’s say math because I’m not good at it). There’s a test I haven’t studied for, and I can’t find the room, because though it’s been on the schedule, I haven’t been there.
I’m about to fail the class, and likely the semester.
Some online therapists say this dream is our brain telling us that we can get through whatever is stressing us out. One we wake up and realize we’ve already successfully survived college and we survive the stress that’s sparking these dreams.
I’m not a psychologist, but I can give you all the online explanations that I don’t understand such as during dreams, the emotional brain takes over the cognitive brain as we sink into the REM state.
“The metabolic activity is higher in the emotional, involuntary, more primitive limbic system. In addition, there is decreased metabolic activity in the prefrontal cortex involved in consciously directed thoughts, planned behavior, emotional self-control, executive function (prioritizing, risk-analysis, higher cognition, judgment, and the focused alert mindful state).” Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed. Radical Teaching, Psychology Today.
I’m not exactly sure what all that means, but these dreams about forgetting something might reflect our mature responsibility towards a job or duty, even though we’d rather be doing something else, like cleaning the garage or binge-watching the newest streaming series.
According to Willis, our collective college dream is “a reminder not to miss an opportunity or take a more active role in one’s destiny.”
No matter how you look at it, we’ve signed a contract for a novel or short story to be delivered on a particular date, or in the case of those still trying to get published, we still need to “show up for work each day,” because our subconscious is telling us to get our butts in that chair and write.
And since I’m on that hard, looking deadline, I’ll quietly back out with this one question. Have you ever had “the college dream?”