Dreams are memorable but also forgettable

 

November 15, 2023 | View PDF



It seems as I get older, the more I have dreams. Not of being a baseball player, writing an award-winning book or mastering the kitchen art of making great crusty bread. No, my dreams are nocturnal. They interrupt my sleep.

The good thing is I have had some amazingly weird dreams. The bad thing is I often forget them soon after waking up — no matter how hard I try to keep them in my head.

Several years ago, I became obsessed — in a healthy, problem-solving sense — with finding a way to make notes of my sleeping visions. Often, my dreams would wake me up, but I didn’t want to turn on the lights, write down the story and fully awaken — that would only mean I’d be tired all day. So I devised what I thought was a fool-proof plan, though it turned out to be a foolish failure.

When I awoke from a dream, I would write down the initials or a one-word hint of the story that had taken over my head. I could do that without opening my eyes, without turning on the light and certainly without fully waking up. Then, in the morning, I thought I could look at the initials on the Post-It Note pad I kept by my bed, triggering the story to come back to me.

You guessed right. I would look at the initials or one-word hints and have absolutely no idea what they meant. I went so far as to keep one of those Post-It Notes by my bed for months, hoping something would trigger a total recall. I eventually gave up and tossed the note into the same trash bin with failed baking instructions.

Occasionally, I still remember snippets or tidbits, even without study aids. Such as a recent dream that I was driving in Kenai, after having lunch with friends, when my car started sliding on the ice and I could not stop. I must have slid a long distance because the next image in my head was the car coming to a stop in the snow in either Homer, 80 highway miles away, or Sitka, 620 ocean miles away.

I remember a second weird car-focused dream.

I had parked my car at a bank branch in Juneau that has not existed in years, and when I came out of the bank my car was gone. Stolen, I assume. But the next thing I remember, I was parking the car in downtown Juneau. I have no idea how I recovered it so quickly. Of course, the dream expanded in nonsense when I was driving that same car in Anchorage. It was like one of those movies with missing years in the character’s life, explained by lettering across the screen that says “Months Later.”

Sometimes, my dreams include people who I know well, and other times people I don’t know very well at all. Sometimes, the people don’t appear, I just recognize the voices.

Usually, I wake up before the story is over — like losing your internet connection before the streaming movie is finished. Just no reloading or rebooting in dreams.

I think I give my opinions a lot in my dreams, perhaps sometimes too strongly and too contrary. Maybe that’s why someone stole my car.

 

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