I haven’t been sleeping well. Even when I appear to sleep well (ie. I go to sleep at 10 and wake up at 6), I open my eyes and feel like I’ve been fighting a war all night. I’d say 99% of the time, I wake up drenched in a cold sweat. Last night at some point I had that horrible feeling like you’re plummeting to the ground that jerks you awake and freaks the shit out of you.
And then, there are the dreams. My dreams are long, intricate, heavily detailed and almost always remembered in the morning with startling focus. Also, many of these night visions are recurring. Not that I’m having the same exact dream over and over, but I’ve had three themes that have attached themselves to my subconscious for the last 3 decades.
1. Flying. I’m not a bird or anything, these dreams are usually more about airplane travel. Usually, I’m preparing for a trip, running around an airport, on an airplane that either looks like an actual plane or sometimes a big bus. These dreams are almost always stressful, dare I say frightening, chaotic and downright eerie.
2. Swimming. I’ve always been a swimmer, I’ve always loved it. These dreams involve me in water of all kinds – rough and calm, pools, rivers and oceans. In general, the stories are soothing, interesting, expansive. They are so real, these water dreams. I can feel the water, I can feel my body in the water.[Yes, I know. Flying and water dreams are incredibly cliche. And I’m flogging my subconscious for being so mundane. But, don’t close this window yet, my 3rd theme is just plain odd.]
3. Contacts. I started wearing glasses in the 4th grade and contacts in the 6th. Without either of these aids in real life, I am fully inoperable. And my recurring dream about my contacts is that I’m trying to put one of the lenses in my eye and it’s too big. Instead of being the size of a dime, it’s the size of a quarter or a half-dollar or the lid of a Campbell’s soup can. And I’m trying so hard to get it in my eye, but I can’t.
Let’s psycho-analyze, shall we:
- The flying/travel dreams are about fear of change and taking risks and moving forward. Even if I rush headily into change and transformation in my waking hours, I deal with the stress of it all when I sleep.
- The swimming dreams are about being held, being safe. There’s just no way around that analysis, I can feel it in my bones.
- The contacts dreams? I think it’s about vision. I think it addresses this deeply held belief that we need something to help us see, something to enable our vision, that we need ‘other’ to find fruition, success, sight. And in my dream, this crutch is useless. I can’t make it fit. I can’t make it help me. In the, I’m guessing, 50 dreams I’ve had about my contacts thus far, the story ends with me trying to get this big, sloppy, plastic saucer in my eye. I never get beyond that point.
I wrote this post because I’m tired and I want to sleep peacefully. And because, good or bad, every night or every other month, these dreams haunt me a bit. And because when I write, I get to look at the struggle from a different side – not all wild in my head, but down here – civilized – on the ‘paper’. I find order and sense and, most often, a path out of the maze. I think writing helps with things like this. It takes the floaty, overwhelming stress and pins it to the paper. Like a butterfly under glass.
So, maybe it’ll be tonight. Maybe tonight I’ll sleep really well. And when the contacts don’t fit, I’ll defiantly toss them aside, look up and realize that I can see regardless, that I can actually see better. And then, maybe, I’ll walk into an orderly airport, buy a cheap ticket and fly somewhere warm. I’ll go straight to the beach…and swim in the sweet embrace of the blue ocean until morning.
Image credit: Jason W. Stanley