The writer is an avid dreamer, exploring the myths and realities of the unconscious mind
Dreams and Reminiscence
Dreams are fascinating despite them being extremely stupid, irrelevant, bizarre or scary at times. Mostly we dream of things that kept us or our minds pre-occupied through the course of the day. Could be anything from; an irritating boss, a meeting with our loved one, a certain fear or an embarrassing situation, a troubled relationship or simply the loneliness in our heart. The actual science behind dreams is yet not fully understood and nor is there a consensus on whether or not dreams actually imply anything. Despite that, they just don't fail to amaze us in so many ways.
Personally, for me, dreams have always been an intriguing subject. Even as a kid I always found them as an interesting subject, simply because they were so vivid and so surreal. Sometimes they felt like movies, while at times they were too frightening. I often used to get goosebumps thinking about or recalling them. The subject though varied from adventure trips, to ghosts, demons, crime-fighting and umpteen number of stupid things. That's pretty normal I guess for most of us. And though I consciously knew much of it was irrelevant but still somehow it seemed so meaningful. I often tried to find meaning in those dreams but all in vain. Unfortunately neither did I have too many like-minded or understanding folks around nor the luxury of internet, as desktop with broadband was a costly affair back then. My best bet was often the elders especially my grandma who was in her late seventies back then. Her intrepretations though would sometimes scare the shit out of me as she would often relate dream experiences to ghost, evil spirits and magic and sorcery etc. For a young, fragile and most importantly a curious mind that definitely left a lasting impression. Not that there was a deliberate intention of scaremongering, it was all normal stuff. The elders would just speak their heart- out, not contemplating anything at all. The social social-setup and the age factor too was influential. Anyways that was then, years passed and dreams and fantasies took a back seat as other priorities in life took over. But what inspired me to write this hub was the dream I had recently. A sudden nostalgia took over and I began wondering if at all the dream had anything relevant to it.
Not sure if 'awakening' would be the choicest word or exaggerating a bit, but as I delved into the mystery world, I felt like I had connected the dots and that there was truly a 'revealing message' for me. Not that I believe in the 'guardian angel guiding me' kind of stuff, but still there was definitely something to it. Perhaps my own conscience reaching out to me in order for me to change the status quo.
Dr Tom Scammell, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, says that nobody knows why we dream. According to him three or four times a night, we have a period of sleep that lasts approximately 90 minutes called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The brain is more active during REM and the conditions are right for "story-like" dreams that are rich in action, complexity, and emotions.
According to him "we are most likely to recall dreams if we wake up at the end of a REM episode."
The Recurring Dream
Dreams usually start or end abruptly or atleast that's how we more less rememeber them in our waking state. Our subconscious mind projecting different images at different intervals in our sleepin-state. The dream of mine was no different. Here's what I recollect of it:
As it began, or what I remember of it in bits and pieces - funny or awful as it may sound I was searching for a 'toilet'. Out of nowhere, I suddenly happen to stumble upon this familiar looking place. Familiar because even in my dream the subconscious mind was telling me that I have been there. In reality, I didn't quite relate to it, though I do recall seeing it in my previous dreams a couple of times. There were no signs or gender notification on the door. My senses quite active even in the dream to remember such details. Somewhat bothered by it, yet I went in. Upon entering, there was a lady busy cleaning the urinals to the left of the entrance. Though they mostly looked clean. She seemed tired and was at a little distance from me. Next moment she was right next to me close enough that I could hear her breathing. She looked me in the eye (no face, just eyes) and murmured something. Unfortunately, I don't recollect the words she uttered. Then I noticed there was another door right in front of me, leading into a bigger room with several doors, possibly restrooms. The doors were all shut and as I turned to my left I could clearly see the letters somewhat engraved onto a wooden frame like structure reading 'COFFER'. That very moment, someone shouted from behind "What are you doing here?", definitely a female voice but no physical presence. I kind of felt embarrassed thinking I had erred. So I quickly rushed outside and that's when I woke up from the dream."
Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D. is an author and psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School. She states that majority of people have dreams that recur over and over again during their lifetime. They are certainly more important than other dreams. They are probably our unconscious trying to tell us something, a more significant issue."
Recurring dreams can even be post-traumatic dreams, where we are relving something that happened during our life time and are most difficult to deal with.
Unlocking or decoding a dream certainly require much more than just a 'dream-dictionary'. Experts believe that while people do share similarities in some of their dreams but the actual meaning of that dream is unique to the person.
As I recollect the vague images of my weired dream, the word 'Coffer' kind of stuck to my head. Several thoughts simultaneously ran across my mind, primarily because my vocabulary somehow seemed devoid of that word, let alone the meaning. Now, here again, it could have been possible that I had simply forgotten or somehow couldn't recollect. As it is with english being my second language, there was a definite possibility of never being acquainted with that word. With the later being the case most likely, dreaming about it did not make any sense at all. Sipping through my cup of tea, I recalled being told that while dreaming it's usually impossible to read. Primarily that's because the reading part of the brain usually remains inactive during sleep. Out of curiosity, I googled to cross check and I did find some discussions confirming the same, nothing solid to reference though. Ofcourse there were contradictions too. But what's more amusing was, the fact that this was the first time this thought struck me. Till that very moment I couldn't recall reading something specific in my dreams. There have been occasions, I dreamt extensively about my exams, preparation bit and how I would end-up missing my exams due to some stupid reason. And there were plenty other ones too but none where I recall having read or write something specific.
So I was back to square one, pondering over the word 'Coffer'. Now the meaning had raised my curiosity levels exponentially - 'small chest for holding valuables', 'money chest', 'treasure chest'. Woah! my eyes momentarily lit up, it surely was intriguing! Why that word? But then thinking about it, I realized it may have a deeper meaning than what was obvious.
Meanwhile, trying to connect the dots, I had the thought at the back of my mind that the place seemed familiar and so was the search for a toilet. The dream this time around was more detailed but for some reason, in bits and pieces that shady place popping out of nowhere was definitely a recurring event for past few months. Luckily while decoding the first bit of dream about the search for the toilet, I found that such dream typically represents possibility or opportunity to get rid of a negative situation. Finding one in itself is a positive sign. The dream interpretation, however, would vary on a case by case basis depending on the scenario. I kind of felt strongly about this dream and awful as it may sound it has been a recurring one in the same place but with changing patterns in the appearance - from secluded to dark, sometimes the toilet was clogged and overflowing and now this final one with a clean premise and a distinct writing on the wall. The fact that I was able to read it clearly had its own sort of relevance.
Connecting the pieces together I was able to ascertain that it was a perhaps a way or a channel that my unconscious mind was utilizing to communicate with me or my conscious-self. No doubt I had been stressed lately. Quitting my job, wasting few grands in some ponzi scheme. Nothing was actually working my way. There was a trust-deficit in relations and the disappointment creeping in had made me feel like a complete loser with a strong urge to just somehow escape from the situation. In these turbulent times that I was going through in real life and the supposed mess I had made of it due to my own follies, this perhaps was the writing on the wall for me. A reminder, to see things in the correct perspective and to get my life back on track. Sometimes it feels that maybe we are thinking too much or way too unnecessarily. But then again, sometimes taking a step back and thinking along different lines or towing a different can prove to be a blessing in disguise. And if it helps, then why not! Again, it's not that I recommend finding logic in what seems irrational. End of day we all percieve things differently.
Coming back, as I had assumed, the moment I was able to understand what this recurring dream was all about, it was the end of it. I never dreamt of that creepy place again, at least not till date. Changing the status quo was perhaps the underlying message. But then again, was that all to it. For now, I think so, but it still seems like a piece missing!
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© 2017 Ashutosh Joshi