I had a bad dream yesterday morning. I woke up breathing hard and my heart was thumping. The dream itself sounds a little twisted, but not necessarily into “nightmare” territory – I was ordered by my superiors to, er, “wipe out” a bunch of people at a school, and later in the dream I found that one of my superiors was a sub-boss from a job I held six years ago.
Again, it’s twisted, but not necessarily nightmare quality. There was such an overwhelming sense of dread and fear in the dream, though. It took me a while to get over it.
Here’s the strange part: while I’m sure I’ve had bad dreams since then, the last bad dream I can remember having was when I was six years old. I just don’t, as a rule, have bad dreams. In fact, I rarely dream (or remember them, anyway). Most of my dreams are like movies being shot, and I’m aware they’re dreams while I’m having them. I’ve had dreams where Freddy Krueger (he of Nightmare on Elm Street fame) showed up and I was all like, “Hey, Freddy! Let me see your glove!” I can watch scary movies right before going to bed and not be affected by them.
There’s all kinds of theories on dreams, what they are and where they come from. Normally I’d do some research to point you towards where I got these, but I’m too lazy, so you may research them if you like. I personally lean towards two theories: 1) dreams are a way for your mind to “take out the trash” and clean up what your subconscious has been dealing with and 2) dreams come from things that you’ve dealt with in the last day. I have no proof, as I mentioned, and no one can really know this stuff anyway – these are just my feelings (born of experience) on the subject.
I think that’s why I don’t generally tend to have bad dreams. I deal with fantasy all day long (in the sense of imagination, not in any sort of … inappropriate sense), whether it be movies I watch, games I play, improv I do, or just little vignettes that I concoct in my head all the time. My subconscious has had a pretty thorough run around the corral by the time it gets to sleep, so it doesn’t surprise me that I either don’t have dreams or that the ones I have are pretty benign. I have a couple of recurring dreams that, when I have them, I’ll change them up a bit. “Okay, last time when we tried to get past the 50 undead Crusader Knights by shooting them it didn’t work, so this time let’s try sneaking past them.”
(For the curious, yes, that is an actual part of a recurring dream I have. I blame Indiana Jones.)
I think I can trace part of my dream back to Star Wars Episode III. There’s a section in it where a person “cleans out” the Jedi Academy, which certainly corresponds to my dream. I’m not sure where the dread and fear come from, though. I’d like to think it comes from an inward sense that I wouldn’t ever want to kill or hurt anyone, a sense of right and wrong, but who can say? It’s more likely I have things unattended-to in my life that are intruding on my dreams – people I’ve wronged in the past, relationships that need mending in the present, a lack of focus – these are the more likely candidates.
We can’t know, though. Dreams aren’t a source of new information and they can’t be documented. Most of them don’t even make sense. How many times have you heard a variation on this: “Okay, I was riding a bird, but it wasn’t a real bird, it was made of Lego, and you were there, but it wasn’t really you, it was my principal from middle school…”?
There are places that will try to tell you what things might mean, but even Sigmund Freud, who had some sort of need to make anything and everything be all about s3x, said this: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
I’d like to think, though, that sometimes – sometimes – wiping out a school full of people isn’t just wiping out a school full of people.