As I have just begun this section there is little here at present. I plan to use this as a place to record recent dreams that are memorable and perhaps also to describe other dreams I’ve had in the past that were not recorded elsewhere and to share a few additional thoughts about dreams in general. I will begin with a thought.
What language dreams?
There are two parts to this question. The first is whether dreams constitute a language of their own. Those who do dream analysis (interpretation) must believe that dreams represent a kind of symbol-language in which each element in the dream constitutes a given symbol that has a recognized definition. It seems to me that this is the only way we might be able to interpret meaning to dreams, at least those of other people. One problem with this concept, however, is that one would have to assume that the symbols would remain constant across all cultures. This seems unlikely as what is symbolic of one thing in one culture may be symbolic of something completely different in another. As just one example, a white dress in Western society traditionally stands for purity and is why it is often used as a wedding gown; to us it represents a time of joy and festivity. In some cultures, however, a white gown is worn only as a symbol of mourning and would be seen only at a funeral rather than at a wedding. If such different meanings can be associated with things in real life, would not their meanings within dreams likewise differ from one culture to another? This is one reason I hold dream interpretation somewhat suspect.
The second part of the question is more straightfoward: If a person is bi- or multilingual, in what language do they dream? I once asked a Belgian friend in undergrad this question, and at first he wasn’t sure what language was spoken in his dreams. A few days later, after paying more attention to this in his dreams, he told me that he’d discovered that when he dreamed of his American friends he dreamed in English; when his dream was centered in Belgium he dreamed in his native Dutch. Being primarily an English speaker myself, nearly all my dreams are in English (which makes perfect sense). I have on rare occasions, however, dreamed in American Sign Language, but as with my Belgian friend it was usually either when I was dreaming about deaf friends or about teaching a Sign Language class (though I do seem to remember vaguely dreaming about signing at a church function once though the people who were around me are hearing in real life). On very rare occasions I can recall speaking or hearing a little Russian, but as I am not very proficient in that language it is extremely rare.
November 12, 2007
I dreamed of being again in Zwolle, Netherlands, with Alex and Marianne Timmerman. Few details remained with me after waking, though I do recall helping Alex move some things by putting them into the trunk of his car. While doing this we were in a large building similar to a barn, and I remember thinking how wonderful it was to be in Holland again. I had a feeling that I was either contemplating what it would be like to live there or that I had in fact recently moved to Zwolle and that this was now or could soon be my home. It was a very nice feeling, and I definitely would classify this a pleasant dream. On awaking back in Bedford, however, it caused me to be more than a little depressed.
Many aspects of the following dream remain unclear, but I will fill it in as best I can.
I was at some kind of supermarket, similar to the one I visit every week. I believe I had spent the day with someone, a young woman for whom I had no romantic inclinations but with whom I had developed a meaningful friendship. As I was pushing my grocery cart through the store I somehow learned that the cart I was using was actually my friend’s cart. At that realization I offered to accompany her back to the front of the store or to take her home. (Yes, I know the latter alternative makes no sense.)
Evidently she had opted to let me take her home as the next thing I remember was being in a car together with her. We rode a long time talking. She was discussing dating and having to pass through “screenings.” She was still of dating age and evidently had issues with the whole process.
Finally we decided to go back to the store, but we ended up someplace else where we played violin duets together. She told me that honestly sometimes my playing “sucked,” so I then told her about my hand injury.
At that point we had to go, and we hugged good-bye for a long time. She said she enjoyed the fact that there was no “screening” with me (whatever that meant — I took it to refer to some type of physical/sexual contact) I said that I would never ask that of her, then reinforced it by saying, “You know I’m married, don’t you? I’ll be your friend and will be here for you, but I’ll never ask anything more.”
We hugged again and even kissed, but it was entirely a kiss of friendship, not of romance or sex. I seem to recall that in the dream her name was Robin, but I am not sure. I had given her my card (which led to a discussion of whether composers should be paid for their work) and she promised she’d be in touch. She had left her business cards at home, so I worried whether I would ever hear from her again.
Overall it was a lovely, lovely dream, and I hated waking from it.
February 3, 2016
It is quite obvious that I have not kept up with this proposed journal very well. The fact that I rarely have any significant time to devote to contemplating my dreams, coupled with the fact that I also hardly ever seem to remember them, means that huge chunks of time remain blank.
Nevertheless, a somewhat unusual dream did visit me last night and has remained with me much of the day, for whatever reason.
I dreamed that I was at some kind of outdoor event, something like a carnival (an odd setting, seeing as I never go to carnivals, circuses, and fairs and dislike them immensely). There was a kind of snack counter there, where I sat down to rest and take some refreshment. The fellow working the establishment was wearing a chef’s apron and was rather rude. He was complaining that people weren’t ordering real food but only pre-packaged snacks. As it appeared that was all that was available, I asked for a honey bun and something else (a drink of some sort). At that the waiter mocked me verbally for ordering a honey bun and being like everyone else and spending only “thirty-five cents.”
Because of his rudeness and attitude I had decided that he definitely wasn’t getting a tip, but then it dawned on me that maybe he was upset because he was really a cook and no one was asking him to cook any real food. So when he came back by I asked him whether he did short-orders. When he said he did, I told him that I would like a hamburger. He seemed a little surprised but was nonetheless very pleased to be asked to cook something, and his entire attitude changed.
Somehow I knew that it was Wednesday and that I wasn’t supposed to have any meat, but knowing how upset, distraught, and hurt this man was, and that by asking him to cook a simple hamburger I had changed his whole outlook on things, I felt that this was the right thing to do. Christ’s words that the Sabbath was made for man and not man fo the Sabbath came to mind, and it occurred to me that it would be better to give up the Wednesday fast for the benefit of this poor, sad man, than it would be to keep the fast and have him remain depressed.
That’s really all I remember, but for some reason that dream has stayed with me throughout the next day.
November 10, 2017
It seems that my ability to remember dreams has decreased with age. Most mornings I can remember having dreamed the night before, but in the majority of cases I may at best recall only short snippets or just an overall subject of the dreams.
For the last several nights I have had very similar dreams, all being about being on a tour in Europe. Given that we just returned from a Viking River Cruise of Europe five nights ago, that would make sense. But again, the details of these dreams are largely missing. I remember one night (I believe the night of November 6-7) we were simply walking on one of our tours, but the following night we were in a tour boat, only one quite different from the boat we actually used. In the dream it was a very luxurious boat, but the luxury focused on the bedrooms, which all were on the level directly below the deck. Each was opulently attired and had windows through which we could see the sights as we sailed. To get to the bedrooms we descended through an elevator that was basically a tube, much like the elevator we took in the cathedral in Vienna. I’m sure that’s where that image came from.
The next night we also were walking on a tour, though I remember almost nothing about the dream. Later I was at a nursing facility someplace and was there to visit my father's stepmother, who I called Miss Ruby (and who in reality passed away quite a few years ago). I went upstairs to go to her room, but the doors were closed and sealed with clear plastic. I could see inside the room because the doors had large glass windows. Miss Ruby was in bed and on oxygen. A nurse was with her and told me I could not come in, though there were other people — including a couple children — in the room already. I conveyed through the closed doors that I wanted the nurse to tell Miss Ruby that we loved her, and the nurse asked who we were. I told her “Buck and Doug” (though again, my father was not with me and in reality had died a number of years ago). I then went back downstairs where I put on my jacket preparing to leave when a tall, pale woman came to the door and told me in a very quiet and shaky voice that Miss Ruby fell and that I should go see her. I could tell by her tone that Ruby was not expected to live much longer. I awoke before going back upstairs.
Last night again I dreamed of being in Prague, walking the streets and seeing the sights, but that is about all I can recall.
The touring dreams obviously stem from our actual tour. Miss Ruby, however, who never or rarely before has appeared in any of my dreams, must have come about as a result of my writing my cousin Barbara Gallagher yesterday about getting a DNA sample from her mother June, Ruby’s daughter and the only surviving member of her (my father’s) generation. Why the dream went back another generation to recall Miss Ruby instead of June I’ve no idea.