Dreams are your brain’s way of flipping you the bird…

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Mornin’ all.

*sniff*

Sorry if I sound funny. I’ve got a head cold working. I think it’s because I’m finally clearing out some of the hoard and boy is it dusty. I hate dust. But apparently, I hate dusting even more. I took a cold pill and swilled it down with plenty of coffee. We’ll see if that clears the hazy fog.

I had the weirdest dream last night. We had that yard sale this past weekend, which went way better than I expected. In last night’s dream, a guy who bought something for a buck brought it back and demanded a refund. I told him I couldn’t give him a refund on a yard sale purchase, and he got really angry and told me I’d be hearing from his lawyer. I woke up legitimately afraid and could not get back to sleep because I was worrying over getting sued.

…over a used bracelet purchase gone awry.

No, for real. I laid in my bed and really worried that I’d be hearing from a lawyer, if not from the bracelet then from something someone bought that they didn’t like. I still have the nervous stomach from it.

See folks, sometimes having an active imagination is wonderful. It lets me create entire universes I can then write down and share, and it keeps the teenagers groaning and rolling their eyes, something every mother of teenagers MUST strive to accomplish. However, sometimes having an active imagination keeps you awake at 3 a.m. churning your stomach up and ruining any hope you had of a peaceful day, over a lawsuit that will NEVER HAPPEN.

It’s not like I don’t get the ridiculousness. It’s not like I don’t totally understand that all of it is completely made up. No one is going to come demanding recompense for junk that turned out to be slightly junkier than they thought when they stared at it under the hazy afternoon lighting. It’s just not something that will ever, ever happen. The logical side of my brain knows this. And yet, the imagination machine only takes a little spark before the briquettes start to glow and refuse to be doused.

Besides, it was a very pretty bracelet. Silver with an opal. Needed cleaning, but certainly it was worth the buck. I mean, if you want to shop around for silver and opal bracelets, I’m sure you’ll find that…

“Bethie, you’re getting yourself going again.”

*ahem* Oh. Uh, right.

You know, the real pisser is that if I had started having that thought in the middle of the day, if my brain said, “Hey, Bethie, what if that dude brings back that bracelet and threatens legal action if you don’t give him a full refund?”, I’d realize the absurdity and laugh my ass off at the mental image. The thought of the judge’s face, the whole ridiculous scenario. It IS absurd. If it popped into my brain while I was washing dishes, I’d giggle, shake my head, and probably tell myself to write up a funny little story about it and move on.

But it didn’t hit me in the day. It hit me during the night, in a dream, while I was asleep.

Why is it that nocturnal thoughts can’t be reasoned with?

Even now, with hours and coffee between me and the event, I still feel that niggle of apprehension. There is absolutely no way in hell I’m getting sued over a dollar bracelet, nor anything else people bought this weekend. It was a yard sale, for crying out loud! Who demands a refund for cheap junk they buy cheaply knowing it’s junk?? No one. Absolutely no one, that’s who.

I KNOW THIS.

And yet, even now, the feeling of fear when I bolted awake with the thought that someone would is still with me.

In this time of crisis, I turned to the Great Keeper of Knowledge, my Google overlords. I wanted to get a sense of what dreams really are. Everyone has their theories, ranging from spiritual wanderings to chemical processing. It’s hard to say what a dream actually is, because they are not only individually subjective, but nearly impossible to accurately describe. Many people don’t remember their dreams, and very few people remember even a majority of the little scenes the mind plays out during sleep. Some people dream in color, some in black and white. Some people dream in smells and sounds instead of images. And some people dream in the full spectrum of touch, taste, sight, and sound, with the added bonus of emotion.

How can you convey your experience to another and make them understand all the things you can’t think of the words to express? It’s such an all-encompassingly personal experience that you simply cannot describe every aspect in a way that someone else can ever understand.

Kinda makes it hard to study, eh?

So, with that in mind, the study of dreams really has two distinct branches. The first is the scientific study called “oneirology.” This is the science part, the quest to figure out how dreams happen at all, what creates them, what part the brain plays, the chemicals involved. Oneirologists are the ones that put the little sticky pads and wires on peoples’ heads and tell them, “Okay, now, close your eyes and have a dream,” then sit and stare at a little computer that tracks brain activity. They don’t care what your dream was about beyond the periphery of any physical links. I’m sure they love it when they get a sleepwalker, because then they can see the “sleeping” brain light up and go haywire. Plus, Subject 2273 doing a chicken dance while talking to thin air has got to liven up what is probably a painfully boring job. Other than the randomly hysterical physical outburst, they don’t care what thoughts and images are floating through your dreamy head, only that there are some.

The second branch of the quest to understand what the hell our brains are doing to us through the night is “dream analysis”. Also known as “dream interpretation”, the focus here is the psychological aspect, the content of the dream itself. The dream analysts don’t care a fig about the physical forces that must combine to create nighttime cranial movies, they just care about why we have them on an emotional level. What is it in our psyches that need dreams, what purpose do they serve in our lives and mental health, why we see what scenes when. As you can imagine, the amount of conjecture involved in this branch of dream study makes is just one step up from quackery in the eyes of the “real” scientists. It’s like walking into NASA and saying, “I’m an astrologist.”

However, this is the branch we’re interested in. I don’t care which chemicals combined in what part of my brain. I just care about why the hell it is I’m still glancing nervously at the door wondering when the man is going to serve me with court papers.

Unfortunately, a search on the Master’s website for “why the hell did my dream scare the shit out of me” yields first a suggestion to use “outta” instead of “out of”, then pages upon pages of terrifying images. You know, just to make sure I NEVER sleep.

…you’re googling right now, aren’t you? *sigh* Okay. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

There. Now we’re BOTH going to have nightmares tonight. Happy?

Back on track. I did some more legitimate searching and found…nothing.

Oh, that’s not true. Of course I found a lot. A ton, in fact. Way too many different opinions to really be useful. See, in a field that studies not only subjective material, but studies it subjectively, there can’t be a concrete answer. Was it a message from the dearly departed? Unlikely, though many out there say it was. How about a Freudian twist, that it’s really a repressed fear from childhood surfacing. Yeah, because when I was a kid hot doggin’ down the hill on my Huffy, I really worried about being sued. Besides, my parents were never sued, so I doubt this is a Freudian mommy issue. I’m discounting both ghosts and repressed fears.

More reasonable approaches would be the suggestions that I’m nervous about an unsure future in general and my brain picked a fresh memory to tweak to highlight those fears. Yeah, probably. I can get on board with that. But is that why it was SO scary?

I’m talking cold sweats here, people. Over a one dollar lawsuit.

After scouring through the annals on Google, I’ve decided that I am now as much of a dream analysis expert as anyone else. So I’m going to analyze my own dream here. Ready for my first official case as a dream analyst? *cracks knuckles* Here we go.

First, I do believe that I am feeling nervous and apprehensive about the future. I like to know everything. I like to have the feeling of control over life that only knowledge brings, and I hate unanswered questions. The man buying the cheap bracelet represents me getting rid of the old, comfortable, familiar life and jumping into something completely new, and his demand of return is really my own fears that things in the next phase will not be what I want them to be. He is actually me in the future, wishing I could get back to the safety of my hoarding hovel of complacency.

Now, that alone is frightening. Let’s look at why it was so physically terrifying, and why I still can’t shake it hours later.

In the earlier scenario I mentioned, if the thought popped in while I was doing dishes, I would have other distractions. I’d have my hands in the dish water, the ambient noises and sounds of my household, the side thought that we’re almost out of dish soap, the feeling of my bra strap digging into my back, the hum of a bug flying by, the sudden memory of the time my friend fell off a chair swatting at a fly during one helluva good kegger… I’d have distractions on every level. When you are awake, your mind and body are constantly pulling input from the world around you and processing it consciously and subconsciously.

When you are asleep, your body is still pulling in input, but with a greatly dulled focus. Your body receptors largely shut down, the body’s physical way of healing wounds and resting tired muscles, etc. Though the ambient everything is still present in your world, your brain ignores most of it, leaving itself free to focus on just the one scene playing out inside. I think dreams feel so more real because to us, in that dream state, they are truly the only reality. I think they hit so hard because there’s nothing else in our world to temper them, to remind us that our feet are securely anchored to the ground. Of course they carry such a punch; they’re all we have to remember for that stretch of time.

*ding*

What was that?

“Your hour’s up, Bethie.”

What?

“Dream therapy. Your session is over. You need to get up off the couch and pay the receptionist on your way out.”

I do?

“Yes, that’s how therapy works.”

But…if I’m my own therapist…who do I pay?

“Oh, Bethie. *long suffering sigh*”

Heh-heh. Uh, I guess I didn’t think this one through, did I? Perhaps more planning is needed before I become a dream analyst. Ah well. It was worth a shot. Besides, I babbled long enough that I’ve shaken the willies. Still stuffy, but I think the cold pill is starting to work.

I suppose that means I’ll have to dive back into the hoard. I got two rooms completely done, the two easy ones. Now, it’s time to tackle the first corner of the dining room. I bet there’s crap at the bottom of the pile that hasn’t seen daylight in damn near ten years. If you don’t hear from me for awhile, you can safely assume that the pile has gained sentience and exacted revenge. Should this be the case, please remember me fondly in the epic ballad you write in my honor.

My kids are going to hear it, after all.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Wednesday, August 6, 2014. I know…I’ll tie a rope to my waist and knot the other end around the doorway pillar. That way all the rescue crew will have to do is tug…

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