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Dreaming Not Sleeping

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Dreaming Not Sleeping

Andrew Ryan

Sleeping is rad. It could possibly be one of my favourite things to do. And often this is because I dream in film format, with my own aesthetic style, and my friends all happen to be incredibly good actors in my head, and there’s no budget to worry about, and the set is already there and everything is easy and awesome… Dreams like this can be incredibly inspiring and enjoyable. But what about when they’re not? What does it mean when you wake up from an intense nightmare, and you’re left feeling completely exhausted and can’t stop thinking about all the weird, upsetting stuff that your grey matter is coming up with? What does it mean when you dream about being thrown off a boat into the middle of the ocean and you can’t get back on it? What about flying dreams? Anything, seriously, do they actually mean anything at all? Is there an actual reason for dreaming? I propose that, despite the apparent “messages” we’re used to searching for, there is, in fact, none to be found.

For years, it has been an accepted “fact” that certain clues within dreams can explain some emotional or even physical problem, that your sleeping brain is working towards creating solutions to your waking life dramas or confusions. Although the idea of hidden meaning in dreams has was always played a part in human spirituality, Freud and Jung introduced the concept into psychology, and as a by-product, into general knowledge for every intelligent person. We find it easy to believe there must be some purpose for dreams, or some benefit to be had from knowing what certain symbols mean. This is probably due to the notion that having a form implies having a purpose; that is, the fact that it exists means that must be there for a reason. But this simply isn’t necessarily true.

Humans are thinking creatures (well, most of us are), and the sleeping brain is a lot like the sleeping body: it is resting because it has to in order to work properly, but it will still kick, turn over, grunt, and grind it’s teeth every now and then. Any symbolic meaning we take from our dreams is all self-created, things learnt by repetition within family and/or friendship circles, as well as within pop culture. And how can a false interpretation system be of any true benefit to anyone?

Sure, thinking about your weird dream that was exactly like the day you went to the park, except it was sped up really fast and everything seemed brighter and that guy you knew from that job ages ago just kind of turned up and started dancing and singing the Lady Ga-Ga song you heard in the clothing store yesterday, and then your good friend turns up out of nowhere, says something vaguely sexual and then disappears… thinking about it the next day might make you see waking life from a fresh perspective, and this after-thought process could definitely be helpful in solving a problem, but the dream itself never offers any answers. It just throws up little bits of stuff in no particular order, and over-dramatises the situations you’re thinking about the most.

So after generations of bonding with/creeping out potential lovers because of dreams (“How spooky is it that I would dream that?! It must mean we’re meant to be together, right?”), it would appear that we no longer have any reason to put up with all the mystical dumb-heads who talk about them like there’re the absolute final word on decision making and problem solution. It’s just another belief system, and definitely shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Next time someone says “Ohhh, the oceans symbolises your sub-conscious”, slap them and tell them there’s no meaning in random chemical reactions, so shut-up, you boring, self-absorbed hippy.

Oh and for those of you prone to exhausting dreams, all that means is that you just have to chill the fuck out, and either a) de-stress before you go to bed so your dreams are fun again, or b) smoke/drink yourself into oblivion, so you don’t remember your dreams when you wake up. Easy.