Where am I and why is this lion sniffing me?

I just read a good post by genericus about dreams which got me thinking.

I don’t often remember my dreams now. I think this is probably a result of sleeping better, since as I understand it you remember the dreams if you wake up afterwards for a bit, and they tend to fade otherwise. In general, though, my dream life has been unremarkable and kind of boring. Mostly I just get the same three or four classic anxiety dreams about school or travel or money problems. They’re annoying but not nightmares.

When I was a young child I had very unpleasant nightmares. Many of these were fever dreams during some childhood “stomach flu” fever. Almost all of them had the odd feature of being wordless and in fact free of story or reason. I would just be seized with terrible fear and anxiety. Sometimes it took forever for my parents to get me out of this state. I couldn’t go back to sleep, and an oppressive horror of everything seized me. One frequent hallucination in this situation was that I was responsible for holding the entire universe in my hand, and it was at once somehow tiny and very heavy. Almost always, though, it was just the Nameless Dread. For a few hours at a time. Boy did that freak out my parents!

I had one very good, very detailed, and very strange dream in high school. I was an apostle, one of those who had met Christ. And I was preaching the Gospel to sailors on a classic 19th century style wooden warship, like something out of a Hornblower novel. There were all these sailors sitting listening to me explain that it was all true, and I had met the guy, and wasn’t this great news. I was apparently impressive. I woke up understanding religion better than I ever had.

The only other notable dream I can remember was more recently and very depressing. Everyone was disgusted and angry with me, including close friends and immediate family. I was openly abused and reviled, and unfortunately it was all true. That one took a few weeks to shake.

Otherwise? I sleep, I wake up. I am not bothered by dreams for good or ill now. I snorkel in the Styx for 8 hours a night and wake up refreshed. Not such a bad deal, although I’d prefer hot ‘n’ steamy sex dreams or entertaining art slideshows if I could order from a menu.

5 thoughts on “Where am I and why is this lion sniffing me?

  1. I don’t remember my dreams, either. I know I dream, because every now and then I’ll be remembering something, and it’s So Completely Impossible, that I realize, oh, no, that was a dream. But I rarely remember anything when I awaken.

  2. I’ve been recently fascinated watching the development of nightmare patterns in my best friend’s kid. He’s woken up twice now sobbing inconsolably about having his shoes taken at daycare. “My shoes! Mine!” It takes hours to get him back to sleep, and he’s quieter the next day.
    At his age, it seems we layer on our childhood fears to our daily lives and bring them all back at night. Maybe less often, but no less powerfully (a week!).
    That fact seems more terrifying than experiencing the nightmares, if you ask me.

  3. Man, is that ever Borgesian, the whole thing but especially the Nameless Dread and the tiny, tiny universe. Maybe you should try to WRITE A STORY containing these elements.

  4. I had the “nameless dread” dreams as a child also. I’ve never been able to describe it to anyone as other than a straight line moving from left to right… like a heart monitor. And all was well as long as the line moved in a straight line. If the line became jagged or sharp, I’d scream in my sleep and it would be hard to wake me.
    When I think back of what was going on in my life at the time, I was in the 4th grade, about 9 years old, hormones raging, getting into lots of mischief behind my parent’s back, and being beaten with the belt at least 3 times a week. Also, my parents fought a lot and my younger brother had just been sentenced for his 3rd crime to a juvenile detention center.
    Fun times.

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