The Questions

O YOU DREAM? Such a simple question, and the primary one for now, yet you might be surprised to know how many people, in discussing this very issue, have said to me, ďOh, I never do.Ē

I’ve asked, “How do you know that?”
              Invariably, the answer has been, in some form, “Because I never remember any of them.” This sets the stage for what follows, which is my scientific explanation of dreaming, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and how research has shown that people who really don’t dream are rarities, and in fact, may be very ill. It also implies what most people consider dreaming; that is, the mental activity that goes on while we are sleeping. Convincing some people who aren’t diagnosed schizophrenics or otherwise mentally incapacitated that they in fact do dream while asleep, even if they don’t remember them, can be like trying to convince the child who has just dreamt of a big monster under their bed that the monster isn’t really there. Somehow, you have to settle for leaving it that they don’t quite believe you.             

Dreams are anything but that simple. Some seem to span a whole nighttime of sleep; others feel like only seconds, in real time. We generally know the difference between good dreams and bad ones though. The bad dreams leave us feeling pretty disoriented and shaken when we awaken from them, from fear, guilt, or our loss of controlóif we can recollect them at all. The good ones make us want to either remain in bed and not wake up, or rise with greater peace, resolve, strength, and vigor than usual. So for the people who seldom or never remember their dreams, I feel both a sense of sadness and a certain pathos. They really donít know what they are missing. Yet they will awaken every day, maybe in more sour or happy spirits, influenced by what dreams have impressed upon their minds, and not know exactly why they feel the way they do. Iíve learned from such kinds of exchanges with people that example is better than theory. Sometimes Iíll read a poem or a story to them that came to me in a dream. If I have the chance, sometimes Iíll sing them a song that I wrote in a dream and played once I woke up. Iím often faced with several questions from them, the first being, ďAnd you dreamed that?Ē
When I tell them yes, they usually add, ďI wish I could dream like that.Ē When I say that I believe they can, usually the next question is, ďCan you teach me how?Ē What Iíve come to know after all my many hours of both dreaming during the third of my life Iíve spent sleeping, not to mention the not so insignificant time recovering them, is that it is possible to learn how to remember oneís dreams, with both great consistency and detail. Iíve even taught myself how to influence what Iíll dream about. To the people who wish they could dream ďlike thatĒ and say they never do, I only say that yes, you can. You only have to remember how.