“Meditations on the Path of Knowledge”
My topic for today is dreams. You will have to excuse the zombie like writing since I feel like my head is full of mud and not brains. That is what happens when I try to reason with computers all day. I have strange dreams sometimes. I have dreams that hint at truth, and I have dreams that are like movies.
Sleep is one of those important things, that when you think about it evolutionary make little to no sense. When we sleep we are vulnerable, so why did we evolve to need sleep? This is a question tackled by Radio Lab and I think they did an excellent job. There was a study published in Science last month that might have answered some of this question. It appears that our brain cleans itself. This is all very interesting (and I encourage you to explore more on this topic) but that is not my topic for today.
Dreams. There is a long tradition of prophetic dreams. I am no stranger to this phenomenon. A few weeks ago I had a dream that an ex-coworker (who moved to Europe) stopped by the lab. It was short and comical (I told him to go back outside and knock like a normal person). I told one of my current coworkers this dream while we were hiking. He went home that night to an email from this co-worker saying he would be in town in November. Coincidences like this, and strong Deja Vu experiences have always seemed to happen.
It seems to me that there are at least to ways one can approach the “what are dreams” like this question. The first is with magical thinking, and the second is more rational that your subconscious picks up on cues that your conscious brain doesn’t. I lean on the second approach, but there is always a sliver of magical thinking. There have been cases where I had a dream about a conversation with someone, only to have that conversation YEARS later. I have recognized people out of dreams from years before as well. It could be my brain playing tricks on me, or it could be something more. While it is pleasing to think that I can see through time, and that I am having prophetic dreams, I’m not sure that jumping to that conclusion doesn’t take something away.
Once you give something an explanation and put it in a “box” you stop trying to figure out the problem. Where is the fun in that!? I personal like the thinking that time doesn’t have to be linear and that I might be experiencing a bit on non-linearity of time in my sleep, but I also like waking up in awe of how smart my subconscious is. What environmental triggers made me think about my ex-coworker, and conclude that he was due to come back for a visit? I have no idea. But my brain might have picked up on some pattern that my conscious self hasn’t seen.
My subconscious also likes movies. I refer to my sleep state as “Sleep Kat” and she is very different from me. She is a total bitch, and will hang on to her dreams with both hands. I posted on social media recently that I had a very vivid dream that was very linear like watching a movie. I wrote down this dream and 6 pages later I have an outline for a much longer story. I think I will write that one up in January in full. This is far from the first time I have had this happen, and a collection of stories from “Sleep Kat” might be a fun project.
Why I picked dreams today is due to a dream I had last night. I tend to have very vivid dreams. There are times that I wake up unsure if that was a dream or not… This morning right before my alarm went off I dreamed that a colleague of mine posted a photo of a beautiful dark red candle with a heart carved on the snow into it with a caption that insinuated that she was also pagan. It was so vivid that I checked my facebook three times this morning to see.
It made me realize that while I know they are dreams I put a lot of stock in what my dreams tell me. I don’t take it at face value, but I question if it really happened or not. I guess I don’t have much in the way of concluding remarks besides saying that dreams have a funny way of sticking to you and making you question reality. And I love it!
P.S. My brain feels much better now! I knew this writing thing was a good idea! 🙂