Every night a dream can generate a world in tremendous detail.
The dream-mind can populate these worlds with characters. Some known to us, some strangers, some hybridized. It can imbue these characters with souls so that they seem to be sentient and as real as us. Even when these characters are familiar and act completely differently in the non-dreaming world, it is easy to be convinced that they have always been like this. Sometimes characters seemingly interchange – two nights ago my voyage with Rich turned into a voyage with Jack, with no obvious reason why and no clear ‘cut off’ point. He just changed at one point and I accepted this as perfectly reasonable. In fact, it wasn’t until I woke up that I realized it.
Things that happen in dreams seem real and meaningful. It as if they would have consequences for us in the future. The people in dreams have similar moral value as those without. Our dreaming selves make moral choices.
What I find most fascinating is when the dream-mind hybridizes places. It can take the quality of a place and fuse it with another, creating something entirely unique. It can take me to an eco-camp in West London and a mere road away back to the horrors of my primary school in North London. Sometimes a sense of both places can exist at once and they can be fused together. Stranger still you can visit a place familiar to you, but things are different, and it is still familiar.
A dream can be so intense that you can wake up with the feelings you felt at the end of the dream still strong in your mind. I woke at 5am this morning after dreaming of being alone in bed with a storm outside and a suspicious noise, like an intruder in the roof. For about thirty seconds I continued to feel the dream, then realized that thankfully I was in the roof and had two friends in the next rooms. So I wouldn’t have to confront the man in the roof on my own if he did intrude or attack me. Although outside there was an actual storm.
Being asleep is clearly not just an essential time for rest. It is an intense time of creativity and processing. The dream-mind is full of symbolism which cannot be easily translated into a logical world-view. The symbology must be given great patience and explored in the language of dreams. As this requires immense patience and detail, and as my vivid dreams are so overwhelmingly common, I have done little to truly delve into what is being expressed by my Self.
And there are questions about the ‘validity’ of any discoveries. Is the subconscious some kind of oracle which knows better than us? Or even able to tap into a ‘spiritual’ place of guidance, warning and wisdom? Dreams have been prophetic – I have felt revulsion for a childhood place in my waking life but always dreamed of going there again; living there, finding safety. It hasn’t made sense why I keep going back. But now my conscious mind has shifted its attitude and I want to go back to that place. The dreams were almost like preparation for that return. Now they make perfect sense.
Mysterious or not, every night is an aesthetic journey. Sometimes filled with horror, sometimes heroism. Occasionally, though rarely, with love. The interpretation that dreams are meaningless or sheer chaos is a great silencing to this part of ourselves which can express itself in pure form with such clarity. And the interpretation that it is just wish fulfillment or repressed desire is a simplification of an incredible creative process. Dreams may involve repression and wish fulfillment, this does not reduce them down to this.
Anyone who has ever written a poem, created a new piece of music, come up with an innovative engineering solution, or used any creative faculty will know that it just happens. It will often need editing, polishing, the craftsman’s discipline. But the creation just happens. The place where the ideas emerge from, where they are fused and worked and forged, is certainly not conscious. The miracle of awakened consciousness does not reach into the miracle of subconsciousness, the swirling, bubbling forces which we do not truly have control over and yet enable us to wield such creative power.
When I write a new song, which is very often, it is not the work of a conscious mind. I theorize that it is the same faculty which generates the dream world which enables creativity in the non-dream world. Things are generated, rather than created. Processes are constantly operating beneath the surface of consciousness and when allowed the breathing space to emerge can generate wonders from the very depths of us. I find myself asking: Where did these ideas come from? I did not realize I was capable of this.
It is then a great affront to us if we consider sleeping and dreaming to be a waste of time, or just a means to re-charge our batteries. For the most hardcore citizen of capitalism, who measures worth in their ‘productivity’ and dodges sleep like the devil, caught in their Faustian-pact with caffeine, I see a life half-lived. Not only destructive for themselves but to all of us. Fortunately people are realizing the futility of living to work and ‘waking up’ to the importance of sleeping. The next stop is the importance of dreaming.
Every night, with a good routine, you are likely to be strapped into the original ‘virtual reality machine’. But not one programmed by someone else to immerse you in their vision or story. One that is generated by you, exclusively for you, with the purpose of revealing something deep before you. Nothing could be more self-fulfilling or daring than to go onto that journey.
Part of my goal is to proselytize idleness, lying fallow and sleeping more. This isn’t just because I am lazy (though admittedly I am a bit!) This is to encourage people to access the portal into their deepest Selves and experience what is there – if not to understand. To take it seriously and if they have time, to even learn from it. I want the people around me to be fully people, not exhausted sleep-deprived zombies.
What better way to begin reconnecting to our nature than to take seriously the expressions of this deepest part of us.