The Reality of Dreams
The Reality of Dreams

I woke myself up the other night, shouting at a burglar. I was visiting my son and his family, and dreamed that someone was on the deck outside the room. I yelled, “Get off our deck!” Then I yelled it again.

In the dream, I could only see him from his chest to his boots as his upper body was above the window frame, but I could tell he was up to no good. I was at first angry, then frightened. He was not at all intimidated by my yelling, and he got closer and closer to the partially opened window.

Dreams are by their nature illogical, so it did not occur to me to wonder how this evil-doer managed to get up to the second floor balcony. Somehow, it was simultaneously at ground level.

When he leaned in to open the window wider, that’s when I yelled for help and woke myself up. I remember calling “Help!” several times, but I don’t know how many times I said it in my dream and how many times I said it out loud. It was only when I felt the vocal chords in my throat working that I woke up and tried to understand what was going on. The first thing I did was to look out of the window and see that there was no-one on the balcony. Then I closed the window.

In that in-between sleeping and waking moment, it was important to check on the burglar. I needed to reassure myself that he was not there. My awake mind needed conclusive proof that my dreaming mind was no longer in charge. Even then, I needed to close the window. That wasn’t just to keep out the street sounds; it was to keep out the burglar. Just to be on the safe side.

We pass through the permeable borders between fantasy, dreams, and reality almost imperceptibly. It’s only occasionally that we become aware of the transitions as I did when I shut out the imaginary burglar. It got me wondering about the things people do sometimes that would make sense in a dream, but are totally illogical to the conscious mind. This week, I read about two schoolgirls who stabbed one of their friends because they thought it would please the fictional Slenderman. Maybe they, too, were in that place on the periphery of wakefulness, where fantasy becomes reality and reality needs to be reassured. If only those girls could have woken up enough to close the window, they would have been able to tell the difference between the fictional and the real. It’s a good feeling when you know.


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  1. I have so many weird dream stories that I could drive people crazy for years with them. I do keep a dream journal. I have no idea what the relationship is between dreams and reality, but I do know that some of them border on prophetic and/or prophylactic. My ex-husband still jokes about the time I dreamed of him running off with a hot blonde and woke up in the middle of the night angry with him. I sporadically keep a dream journal. It’s interesting to see how closely they track whatever is happening in my life. I have always lived largely in my mind – and kept very close account of what is real there versus what is real in the outside world. Dreams should inform and promote contemplation. They should not direct.

    As always, I love your though-provoking perceptions. You have a real gift for both observation and communicating those observations by writing. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the kind words, LBMM. The odd thing is that I hardly ever remember my dreams. For a long time I didn’t think that I did actually dream. Now I realize that I do, but I’m only aware of my dreams if I wake in the middle of them.

  2. Everybody dreams. The ones that drive me crazy are the ones that are perfectly clear when I wake up, but by the time I walk down the hall to brush my teeth I’m already grasping at fog. That’s why I occasionally roll over in the middle of the night and end up with a bruise from the hardcover journal and pen that sleeps with me these days. 🙂

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