Dreaming has been revered and reviled as a visionary (Martin Luther King and his ‘I have a dream’ speech) and a waste of time (Mungeri Lal and his haseen sapne), respectively. Recurrent dreams, weird dreams, nothing dreams, scary dreams – you dream them all.
Dreaming is biological, just another bodily function, involuntary and unplanned; we dream because we are. Where will we take our insecurities, angst and political incorrectness if we don’t settle scores in the battlefield of our subconscious? We sleep and we wake up – in between we dream.
Apparently, we dream our dreams during certain sleep cycles but only a few remember the dreams. Dream recall has to do with your state of sleep perhaps, but everyone does dream – they just forget. Philosophers go so far as to say, the world is a dream we are dreaming. That both the world and we end when we awake.
Dreaming beats insomnia and counting sheep any day, rather any night. As William Shakespeare put it: ‘To sleep, perchance to dream.’ A good dream puts us in the right mood for the day. Too much dreaming though can be injurious to health. It's considered a laid back, lazy thing to do. Those who only dream give dreaming a bad name. Less fun, more nothing to do; a no man's land where the dream factory becomes the devil's workshop.
The really young can't distinguish between dreams and reality – remember the child in Arundhati Roy’s The God Small Things who asks: ‘If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?’ And really old would rather dream than do. It is the dreamers in between who can dream constructively.
Songs endorse this activity so enthusiastically: Sweet dreams (Eurythmics); All I have to do is dream (Everly Brothers); Dream lover (Bobby Darin); Dream on (Aerosmith), I have a dream (Abba).
Don’t ever say ‘I won't dream of it’ as you never know what you will dream next. Never mortgage your dreams either; ‘I will dream of you tonight,’ you might tell a girl or boy in a romantic fever and then dream of nothing that night, or worse, of mules in an endless desert.
Dreams are so much a part of our daily lingo: eyes get dreamy, someone’s a dreamboat, one finds one’s dream-girl and so on. There are dream interpretations, dream studies and nightmares that get called bad dreams. But dreaming is the thing – you have to dream! Nothing beats being in the middle of a dream where you are never baffled by the lack of logic or the huge gaps in time periods as a tiger charging at you turns mid-leap into a cup of tea or something. The best part is you calmly accept this and sip the tea like it was meant to be.
Dreaming really is uninterrupted me-time. No mom nags, no mobile phone pings. You are all alone with yourself, healing, mending, handling what you can’t handle when up and about. It is a mirror that looms up from nowhere in the middle of your mind and you have to look at yourself. The good, the bad, the ugly of you.
‘Hold fast to dreams,’ advises poet Langston Hughes, ‘for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.’
Yawn, stretch, nod off. Happy dreaming!
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.
First Published: IST