Common formula these days: Can’t sleep or bad dreams; go to the doctor; get a prescription to wipe out your dreams. A 2006 Dissertation by Kimberly-Anne Ford, Mefloquine dreams: Exploring the subjective experience of risk and safety and its role in the regulation of pharmaceutical drugs in Canada, explored the subjective experience in dreams of drug side effects. While that was only a part of the ethical considerations raised in the dreams, it is a step into the truism that something happens in our dreams when we are not taking psychotropic medicine, and something else happens with our dreams when those medicines are introduced.
I was talking recently with a friend who was riveted one weekend with the coverage of two horrific world news stories unfolding at once: The violence in the Gaza strip around mutual shelling from/to civilian areas, and the Russian Separatist activities including the militant shooting down of a civilian flight killing nearly 300 people. Whether it is Kosovo of ten years back, Beirut of three decades ago, vulnerability to terrorist attacks since 9/11, or other forms of consistent national violence, it becomes clearer that the world can be unsafe and unsettling.
Pair that with the trauma on a personal level that happens all over this country: One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. The “Ray Rice” situation is horrific for that family, as is every situation in which domestic violence occurs, and for them it is happening in public. The fact that this and other NFL stars such as Peterson, MacDonald, Dwyer, and Hardy, are all in the spotlight elevates the visibility of a previously invisible problem. One in every 240 Americans will be murdered – at present homicide rates. Aaron Hernandez, a former NFL star, is now awaiting trials on multiple murders.
Nightmares operate on several levels. Even that statement, simple enough, operates on a lot of levels. There are night terrors, more prevalent in childhood, more present in trauma survivors (and onot always explained by trauma). These are not the nightmares of the nearly well: these are debilitating physiological and psychological events. Recently, I met a woman receiving treatment for PTSD, and one of her prescriptions is in place to take away her nightmares. Where, then, do they go? Should we not be disturbed? Are we paying attention enough? Are we doingenough?
Traumatic events bring about more horror than the mind can process. Imagined fears can bring about a similar effect to realized terrors. And these overwhelming urges arise in our sleep, some say so that they may be dealt with in a way and at a time that we are prepared to handle them. Wipe our our REM state of sleep, and what are the consequences? Where do those images go? Are we simply bandaging our wounded so they can return to the front lines of home, family, war, workplace, and not feel like the bad things that happen really occur? I am asking not because I have answers, nor because I want them; but more, as Rilke said, because I love the questions. Today, I live the questions.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is,to live everything. Live the questions now.
Breaking the 500 barrier on “Linked In” connections.
A new job and a new practice.
So one year later, another hot August day, another bright idea. I have been here before. This blog started the way many other things start: Thinking while doing something else. Doesn’t matter if I was in the shower, or driving to work, or crocheting. My mind was elsewhere. And in that elsewhere my mind thought, “I bet I have 52 topics for dream blog! I could do a post a week on just what is in my head now!” So I dictated to Siri a list which by the time I got to work (Yes, I WAS in the car) had gotten to 31 different topics. As I transcribed I thought of several more. I had to write.
The Medium is the Message
It has been fifty years now since Marshall McLuhan taught us that phrase in his book, “Understanding Media.” What he meant was, we need to study the medium in which the message is brought to us. Dreams have been recently pooh-poohed as a soft medium with no more message that the random firing of neurons, or on the other extreme perhaps, a spiritualist seance every night.
So in service to the 20th century’s best known “medium”, Edgar Cayce’s son, Hugh Lynn Cayce, is quoted as saying, “The best interpretation of a dream is the one you apply.” And to update that to the present, this year, one of my favorite new dream quotes is: “The best interpretation of a dream is the dream itself.” No interpretation needed; the image is the image.
Today, one year into this blog, I might agree that I had to write, and I also might have to admit now I have less to say. The best experience of the dream is the dream, and we all have them every night. Trying to capture every message from every dream is like cataloging snowflakes to prove their difference or discover their similarities. At some level, we all have to let the snow melt into the ground and await the next skyfall.
That being said, this morning, I looked over my original list of dream topics. It looks to me like there are a lot of areas left untouched. So oneward in this, Post One of Year Two: once or twice a month, it does not hurt to have a reminder in the inbox about the value of the miracle that happens repeatedly each night.