Archive for the 'Dreams' Category

Dream away…

in my dreams I imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake…Rene Descartes 

I’m a big dreamer. It happens every night, usually a few hours before I wake for the last time.

I say last time because I fall asleep easily, enjoy five hours of bliss, and wake around 3am. I make a trip to the bathroom and return to bed feeling like I can go right back to sleep. Wishful thinking.

The next three hours of relative sleeplessness include meditative breathing. I take a few deep breaths, then return to normal while focusing on my breath. It often works and I fall back to sleep, except it doesn’t last. But I’ll take what I can get.

Thinking about an enjoyable experience often does the trick. I’m on a fly-fishing trip with my son David. I’m wearing waders and casting a surface fly. I see the flow of the water in the stream, the weightless fly resting on the surface, and the over-sized trout grabbing it. I see the line peel from the reel as the fish runs. He stops and gives up. I see the fish in the net and David cradling it. I see him remove the microscopic fly from the trout’s mouth. I see the fish swim away. I smile. It works, sometimes.

I like sleeping on my right side. Second place goes to my left. I hardly ever fall asleep on my back although I occasionally find myself there when I wake. It feels good as I lay on my side, but the comfort doesn’t last as I feel the mattress inevitably resist. I shift my position and hope I can sleep before I need to do it again.

Time seems to move quickly in the dark. I stare at the overbright clock by the bedside. It’s 3am and then, in what seems like a few minutes, it’s 4am. I think it’s because I don’t realize that I really am asleep. Not a deep sleep. More of a muddled sleep. One where I think about things. Things that trouble me. Things that seem more troubling than they will be when I fully wake. Stupid things about which I will scold myself and promise never to do it again. But, of course, I do.

It’s in those few hours before dawn that my dreams happen. Dreams that have people who are unknown to me, and others that are too well known. People who are kind, and some who are not.

Dreams that are happy and sometimes sexy. Others that cause me to wake in a sweat, toss the covers from my overheated body, breathe hard, and be glad that it was just a dream.

Dreams that I can only vaguely recall, and others that stay with me most of the day.

Dreams that others have too. I didn’t study for the test. Can’t find my way home.

Dreams I can’t decipher. Others that are far too meaningful.

Jackie says most of my unpleasant dreams display my anxiety. In the extreme, feelings of fear, dread, and uneasiness. Anxiety caused by repeating the past, or uncertainty about the future.

A single night can bring two dreams without a commercial break.

No two dreams are precisely the same, but many share the same message.

Rare ones, doled out miserly over the years, have me flying about twenty feet off the ground, admiring the landscape. It is so real that when I wake, I wonder if it was. Or maybe I was Tinkerbell.

It’s the bad ones that make me wish I was more like Ila, who claimed she never had dreams. As M.C. Escher, the Dutch graphic artist, said, “I don’t use drugs. My dreams are frightening enough.”

We dream several times every night; it’s a normal part of healthy sleep. It’s shown to be connected to better cognitive function and emotional health. It’s also reputed to produce more effective thinking and better memory retention. Sometimes, dreams make a lot of sense while others do not.

Last night I was a voyeur. It was like watching a movie at the Century 10 in Ventura; the only thing missing was popcorn. There was a grassy field with a hole in the ground, maybe an abandoned well. A man was stuck about twenty feet from the surface. His arms were at his side, and he could not move them. People stood around the hole and yelled encouragement. As though on cue, I joined the scene entering from from stage-left. I suggested we drill another hole next to the first one. Someone could descend to the same level as the stuck man, dig horizontally and pull the unlucky man into the new hole. And then my dream ended.

I did not feel rested, nor did my cognitive functions improve.

But I did wonder if the man ever made it out of the hole.

I didn’t sleep well last night

I didn’t sleep well last night.

Maybe it was the chicken thigh that I chewed on at eight pm. I bought it at Westridge after my two- hour library foundation board meeting. The meeting starts at six, and it takes me about twenty minutes to drive down the hill to town. Five o’clock is too early for me to eat before the meeting. So, I eat too late and more often than not regret it. As usual, the chicken had resided far too long in the warm mystery liquid at the bottom of the heated display case. Its skin had taken on the characteristics of an old plastic book cover that protects library books from everything but a nuclear blast.

Downing the chicken without joy, I went to bed around ten, just after watching the latest episode of Bosch, the Amazon Prime series based on Michael Connelly’s character, Harry Bosch.  A hard-bitten police detective, Harry seems to have too much time on his hands and spends much of it getting into trouble while solving cases that have become more complex with each new series.

Played by Titus Welliver, a name that somehow seems inappropriate for the character, Harry lives in one of those Hollywood Hills homes that is unbelievably cantilevered into space through some ingenious architectural engineering. It appears to float dangerously and gives cowards like me every reason to avoid such places. The house, though beautiful, appears ready to crash down the hill into another miraculous, seemingly unsupported, home. The night views of the sparkling city seen from Harry’s outdoor deck are unforgettable. Which is more than I can say for the story plot lines.

This is the fifth season for Harry and other assorted cops and miscreants. The combination of a too late eaten chicken thigh and the the program’s unfathomable twists and turns challenge my mental capacity. I usually find myself nodding off for a few minutes in the middle of an episode, making it nearly impossible to follow the story line. Rewinds are common. I probably shouldn’t watch murder mysteries late at night while gnawing on an aged chicken leg.

I never have trouble falling asleep. Staying asleep is my problem. Three am brings a startling mental wake-up call. Since I’m now up, a trip to the bathroom seems like a good idea even if I don’t feel the urge. A sip of water that has resided a bit too long in my aging plumbing adds to the festivities. Then it’s back to bed feeling half awake and ready for more sleep. Sometimes sleep arrives. But not last night. Instead, my mind wanders aimlessly in semi-sleep mode. I bounce from thought to thought. I exhaust the comfort of lying on my left side and switch to my less preferred right side. Then onto my back. Never on my stomach. Adjust the covers. Fluff the pillow. Repeat again at ten minute intervals.

My muddled thoughts often border on the ridiculous. Thoughts that would be laughable when fully awake are now cause for sleeplessness. Minor infractions during the day are replayed in my mind. I make mountains out of molehills. Some particularly onerous thoughts cause my heart to beat faster and pulsate in my right ear. I employ thought control to rid myself of the offending thoughts. Miraculously, I calm my thumping heart and trash the misguided belief that I am about to have a heart attack in my bed where I will lie lifeless until the cleaning lady arrives next Tuesday.

On my left side I can, with some effort, focus on the eerie glow of the alarm clock. And I am surprised at how quickly time has passed. It’s almost four. I calculate the number of hours until it’s time to get up. I’m sometimes pleased that there is time left. Sometimes not. Sometimes sleep comes. Sometimes not.

Desperate for blessed sleep, I’ve developed a few routines to get me off the moody thinking and onto something more upbeat. I tried counting sheep (doesn’t everyone?) and found myself covered with sheep shit. I employed a yoga like breathing routine that, while forcing me to concentrate on my breath, reduced my stress but made me more alert and even less sleepy. I tried reading but, like a bad book, it did not produce the desired result.

One cure for my sleeplessness evolved from a fishing trip to northern California. Marching with my son David along a meandering stream, we happened upon a beautiful cold-water pool. Stepping into it even with warm underwear and neoprene waders, it was chilling. We cast our fly lines as quietly as possible. And then it struck. A five-pound wild Rainbow Trout. The animal would not be easily landed. Jump after jump he struggled to spit out the barbless fly. I was lucky. He tired and I landed him. People had gathered near the pool to watch the contest. They murmured their admiration when my son netted the prize, removed the tiny fly from the fish’s gaping mouth and released the creature to once more offer a memorable challenge to a worthy angler.

I think about that adventure when I can’t sleep, and it often brings welcome relief from my muddled thoughts. Much like the fish, I’m thankful that I am set free. Until next time.



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