Holten: Two dreams at once
Did you dream last night? I did. In fact, I think I dreamed two dreams at one time. Is that possible? Apparently it is.
Of course, this was roundup weekend at the Little Missouri Cattle ranch in the middle of the Badlands where, after two full days in the saddle, sleep came easier for me than going through butter is for a hot knife or lifting an ant is for King Kong. So if ever I was going to dreams two dreams at one time, it would more than likely be out there.
I actually woke up at about 3:30 a.m., slurped down some water and re-snuggled under my cozy blankets and then dreamed one dream and overlapped it with another. So, like multitasking, we'll call it multi-dreaming.
The contents of the dreams are mostly irrelevant and unrelated, except for the fact that it was one person (me) having both dreams, which didn't seem confusing at the time but does now and led me to do a little dream research. That is when I discovered there are plenty of dream institutes and there has also been plenty of dream research, all of which seems to be mostly inconclusive, yet interesting.
What I discovered is that dreams have been recorded for a long time and that the Sumerians in Mesopotamia had a fixation for dreams as far back 3100 BC. In fact, their seventh-century BC scholar-king, Assurbanipal, even had his secretary record his dreams on clay tablets.
Not far behind, the Egyptians, who seemed to record everything everywhere, as far back as 2000 BC, wrote down their dreams on papyrus, a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant.
That's how we know they thought people with vivid and significant dreams were blessed, and that dreams were actually messages from the gods and were the best way to receive divine revelation. In fact, they had little sleep franchises where they'd go to doze on special "dream beds" in hopes of receiving advice, comfort and healing from the gods.
"Yes, I'll have a McBurger, fries and a vivid dream please," I think they said.
Meanwhile, the Mesopotamians thought the soul, or some part of it, moved out from the body of the sleeping person and actually visited the places and persons the dreamer saw in their sleep. The Babylonians and Assyrians divided dreams into "good" ones sent by the gods, and "bad" ones sent by demons, believing that their dreams were omens and prophecies. I think we still think that way.
Have you ever had a dream where you were about to die and woke yourself up just before it happened because you thought you might die if you didn't?
Well, according to Jeffrey Sumber, who is a big dream psychotherapist and author in Chicago, dreams about death often indicate "the symbolic ending of something, whether that's a phase, a job or a relationship."
He also said that a dream about death can indicate attempts to resolve anxiety or anger directed toward the self and that it does not suggest that a person will actually die imminently.
I'm not sure how he knows that, but whatever.
Then there is something they refer to as a lucid dream, which is described as any dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming. About which Greek philosopher Aristotle said, "Often when one is asleep there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream."
Which seems like a real wordy way to say to say, "I know I just had dream." After all, doesn't everyone know when they just had a dream?
And really, what's the difference between a dream and a daydream? Because when I was in grade school, I was an expert daydreamer. Or is that what they refer as having a vivid imagination?
Whatever the case, it reminds me of a quote by Edgar Allen Poe, who said, "All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream."
Which begs the question, are you really reading this, or is this just a dream?
Holten is the manager of The Drill, which is a part of Forum News Service. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.