Dreams are pretty amazing. They can be explosions of creativity and new ideas, and you’re along for the ride. It’s not that frequent, but when I have a really good sleep and dream deeply, I can experience these complex, interesting stories that my sleeping mind just pulled randomly out of the mass of concepts and ideas tucked away in my memory. When I wake up, I go through this process where I lose all of that as I gain consciousness. It always leaves me disappointed and somewhat melancholy.
Deep in the dream, I am just experiencing things as they happen. Stories play out, new scenes, completely unrelated to what came before, spring up. At some point, I realize that it’s a dream, that it’s interesting and I like it, that I want to bring it back with me. At that point this effusion of ideas lies before me, each one ready to be examined, serialized into coherent narrative. There’s a certainty that they will fit just right into the whole, like the feeling of a word “on the tip of your tongue,” except that the missing word is available to me at will.
I try to catalogue these fragments, remember them, and it’s like collapsing a quantum wave function; by examining each one, I can systematically turn each tenuous bundle of cognitive connections into a sequence of words that can be recorded, recounted, shared. But in doing so, I destroy it. I’m unable to produce the same “words” twice, and I lose more and more of them the longer I keep trying.
Rising to consciousness is like grasping at these ideas desperately, trying to collect as many as I can, hoping that I can fill in the rest from context and association, but I can no more hold onto them than I could hold a beachful of sand in my arms. They erode away, and I can never collect enough, in enough detail, to move the stories from my dream-mind to my rational mind.
It’s an incredibly disappointing experience. Sometimes I remember a single event, or character, word, or name. Maybe a few. These are like sentences in a novel, though, and the novel is gone like a letter you spent hours refining in an e-mail just to be eaten by your browser. Tonight’s fragment is “Prosidy.” It was a last name; I don’t remember the first. I looked it up: it’s not even a word. (“Prosody” is, and it’s a word I’m not sure I knew existed until now.) There was a household of people, a gathering, and I knew each of them, their motivations and their part in what played out, what they felt and wanted and how they conflicted with each other. But not now.
I wonder, if we had some way to record our dreams, if the meaning I imagine was there would turn out to be merely illusion? Maybe the only part of the experience that is real is that feeling of certainty itself, and I can’t bring back the details because there never were any? I hope not. I’d like to think that some day there might be a means for me to record these experiences, to go back and examine them when I’m awake, transcribe their stories and share them with the world.