I believe that my dreams are my sub-conscious trying to finagle me into seeing myself and my life in more honest ways. Sometimes. Sometimes they are just the flotsam and jetsam of my day. But when I have a dream that resonates, leaving me wondering, I talk about it; to friends, family and sometimes relative strangers...(the relative stranger was a patron of a coffee shop I go to that overheard me talking about my dreams to a friend and joined the conversation.) To all of you I used to feel obligated to say both thank you and I'm sorry- because dream talk is so roundly rejected as boring in our culture, but no more apologies. Reporter Amanda Hess describes the taboo of dream discussion in her 2015 Slate.com article, "We Need to Talk About Our Dreams."
Accepting dream talk...requires a respect for “a more intuitive mode of thought.” This goes a long way toward explaining the generalized Western suspicion of “dream talk”—that mode is historically undervalued around here. Perhaps, then, this taboo is self-justifying: We don’t talk about our dreams, so we never get good at talking about our dreams, so we dismiss all dream talk as boring and useless.
So, if you have gotten this far in the blog post, I give you fair warning, I am going to write about a dream that I find funny- in that "honest things about yourself that are both messed up and hilarious" way. It's your choice if you want to listen/read:
In my dream I am at a meeting, strumming a guitar, and the leader is talking about how we will be performing the lost Beatles hit, The Boy in the Nylon Pajamas. The people around me are really excited, and the leader says, "I know you have all also read the book about the song, The Boy in the Nylon Pajamas." I think to myself, I have never heard this song AND I didn't read the book AND I don't really know how to play the guitar, but I probably have time to learn, so I ask the leader for the sheet music to practice the guitar part, and he looks at me a little funny and says, "We are an a-cappella group. You won't need the guitar." I nod like I know that, and inside I am super relieved because I really can't play the guitar, and I can probably learn to sing this song, so I say, casually, "I'm heading out." But another member of the group, a woman, looks at me and says, "we are performing in forty minutes and we all have to eat now." I nod again, because I don't want to let on that I didn't know this, and now the woman is handing us all menus and the only choices on it are three different Thai food options, and now I am super curious if eating Thai food is somehow part of performing a-cappella but before I can find out without letting on that I have never sung a-cappella, let alone have never heard the song The Boy in the Nylon Pajamas, she tells us all to eat quickly so we can practice forming the "cage of limbs" for our song. And I think to myself "That makes sense, I can form a cage of limbs," and I wake up.
I told my husband about this dream when I woke up, and then didn't think about it much, until he came home from work and the first thing he said to me was, "I have been thinking about the Boy in the Nylon Pajamas all day." This is a shock to me, so I ask him why, and he says that he can't stop laughing at the ways in which I say yes to things that I have no idea what they really entail, and then just keep finding ways to be okay with that. Not laughing in a mean way, but in that way when you love someone, even though they are a little bonkers..."The Boy in the Nylon Pajamas dream is just so you, Laura. You always seem to find a way to make things work out, but you get yourself into ridiculous situations- like first in the dream you are worried about playing the guitar, but instead of admitting it, you figure you can fix it. You are saved by the fact that the song is a-cappella. When you find out that you will have to sing a song you've never heard, you again don't admit it, you just figure you will have time to learn it. How did you agree to be in this group in the first place? And how the hell are you going to sing a song you've never heard?"
The vain part of me was so pleased that he was entertained by my dream. Score one for dream talk! But then I started thinking about how I do get myself into ridiculous situations and often by luck, get out of them, and that might prevent me from learning important lessons in life. One time- a long time ago- we went down to Boston to meet friends from out of town, and the four of us were planning on going out to dinner, but one of our friends felt a little under the weather- she had ridden the ferry from Provincetown, so I suggested we go back to our house and have a quiet dinner at home. We get back to our house to find not twenty minutes later a large group of people showed up for a progressive dinner we were hosting which I had totally forgotten about. We only had to supply the drinks - which was lucky- and our friends didn't rat us out- and we all had dinner together as if I had NOT forgotten my commitment to my dinner group. Why am I confessing to this? Because I definitely do not want to confess to the times that I have been unlucky and things have gone wrong from my unwillingness to learn from my mistakes and reliance on misguided optimism as an alternative to admitting the truth and facing the consequences. *sigh*
So I think the dream, The Boy in the Nylon Pajamas, was my brain deciding to have a talk with me. It is important to point out that in the dream, I don't actually perform, so I don't "face the music" so to speak- but I started thinking about how my sub-conscious is trying to teach me what I resist in conscious life- that I need to own what I don't know. I believe that some part of me knows that I resist direct lectures, so my brain decided to use my affinity for laughing at myself to get me to take a new look at my choices and actions. In talking with Steve I also thought it was funny that my reaction at every turn was not to admit anything, but to keep playing along, oddly comfortable with flying by the seat of my pants. But despite all of my optimism in the dream, there is the inescapable fact that I don't know the song, The Boy in the Nylon Pajamas- I can't even hum it- so the outcome of that dream-situation was certain failure- for myself and the other members of the group. If I had any hope of avoiding that failure, I would have had to have been more honest about who I am and what I know: and that is definitely something I need in real life.
Who knows, if I make this change in my conscious life, maybe my sub-conscious will reward me with hearing the song, The Boy in the Nylon Pajamas, and I will be able to wake Steve up at 4am and sing it to him...a-cappella.