Never Quite As It Seems

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Your Dreams.”

“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a
king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad dreams.”
— Hamlet, Act II, scene ii

Ironically, I’ve kind of already dealt with this week’s topic this week. My question about where I will be 10 years from now that I wrote about on here a couple of days ago sort of speaks to my dreams for the future. And it even occurred to me before I wrote yesterday’s Bucket List post that really I could just slap the Reconstruction header on the top of the post and call the week done.

But that would have been cheating, huh?

Since those basically took apart the issue of my figurative dreams, my dreams for the future, I guess that leaves me with dealing with literal sleeping dreams for this post.

Actually, I could, theoretically, talk about another type of dream, prophetic dreams. Not that long ago, I don’t know that I really believed that they still happened, but I’ve come around since then. However, it’s not something I have personal experience with, so it doesn’t really fit the topic of “my dreams.”

I could talk about the only real recurring dream I remember having, one that I had for years after moving back to Huntsville on a pretty regular basis, and which I still have on rare occassions.

In the dream, I would decide that I was supposed to be a newspaperman. I used to believe this firmly, back when I still worked in journalism — that the ink in my blood was more than just a career choice, but an integral part of my nature, of “who I am.” In the dreams, I would decide that working at my current job was a betrayal of that, a betrayal of myself, and I would go back to Mississippi to my last newspaper job.

Sometimes, in the dream, I didn’t even make it through the first day back before I realized I’d made a huge mistake. Sometimes, in a different variation, I made it overnight before realizing that. Fortunately, in the dream, I’d never actually quit my current job, I’d just gone back to newspaperering, so I would always just come back to this job after missing a day or so of work with no one the wiser.

Leaving newspapers was hard, and it was a decision that I second-guessed for a while. The dream was a real comfort during that time, it gave me some reassurance that I’d made the right decision; I suspect how I felt in the dream was very much how I would have felt in reality.

Beyond that, the only thing I would add, kind of along the lines of the quote I used in the beginning, is that it’s been interesting over the past few years how the idea of good dreams and bad dreams has changed.

As a kid, it’s easy. A happy dream is a good dream. A scary or sad dream is a bad dream. As I get older, that becomes less and less true. Today, what used to be a “bad dream” doesn’t really bother me. I have nightmares on very rare occassions, and, when I do, OK. I have them, they play out, and they end or I wake up. And it’s done. It’s behind me.

Today, it’s the “good dreams” that bother me more. It’s the dreams of a happiness that’s passed, or that never was, or shouldn’t or couldn’t be, that are the worst. It’s dreaming of a reality that you wish was, only to wake and realize that it was only a dream that’s hard. Waking from a nightmare to a reality that’s better than your dream is always a relief. Waking from a dream that’s better than reality can be a little harder to swallow.

But, ultimately, some dreams come true. Some don’t. You sleep, you dream, you wake. You live your day, and dreams come true, or they don’t. The day is better than you dreamed, or it’s not. And at the end of the day, you sleep again. And dream some more.

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