Go Forth & Nerd! Ep. 49 - Nerdy Dreams & What They Mean
Nerdy Dreams and What They Mean
Welcome back to Go Forth and Nerd my name is Jesse Bray also known as Mr Bray and I am your resident nerd.
Have you ever had a really weird dream? The kinda dream or nightmare that you just can’t shake?
Well today's episode is titled "Nerdy Dreams and What They Mean" and we’re going to explore some nerdy bits about the history, the power and the significance of dreams and what they might mean.
I'd like to begin this topic with a brief introduction to an important figure in the realm of dreams, the Sandman. No I'm not referring to the graphic novel often written by the brilliant author Neil Gaiman. The Sandman is a mythical person that would sprinkle dust over your eyes while you slept to give you good dreams. According to the telling of this myth the leftover residue in the corner of your eyes in the morning was the proof of his visit during the night. The Sandman was the lord of the world of fantasy and the bizarre so hold on to your butts we're in for an exciting and nerdy ride.
Now dreams are kinda like photographs, it's sometimes hard to pay attention to someone else's nocturnal escapades. Example say someone is sharing their weird dream with you about them floating on a ritz cracker in a bowl of soup. Well it’s really easy to check out if you’re not starring in their story, regardless of how interesting their sea faring cracker adventure might sound. Why is that? Several reasons: it’s part narcissistic boredom, part the bizarre events of the dream and part poor telling on behalf of the dreamer. However in my opinion one of the largest reason why listening to someone else’s dream is tough work is fundamentally because we no longer believe in dreams like we used to.
What am I talking about? Well if you’re a student of religious or classic literature, really any ancient script will due, you’ll have observed that the soothsayer, fortune teller or prophet had an uncanny ability of foretelling events, or interpreting the signs and significances through the power of dreams. From the “Ides of March” where Caesar ironically bawked at the prophecy of his assassination to the jewish prophet Daniel famously interpreting the dream of king Nebekenezer’s statue. Nebekenezer had this intense dream of a large statue with a golden head and silver arms and chest, with a bronze waist, iron legs and feet of clay. The prophet Daniel ends up explaining this dream to the king how the images relate to historical kingdoms that were going to eventually take place. Each precious metal resembling a different dynasty of lesser quality from king Nebekenezer's kingdom. Looking back even further to one of my all time favorite myths the Epic of Gilgamesh - “Spoiler alert” when Enkidu and Gilgamesh kill the forest cyclops Humbaba, Gilgamesh is told in a dream that his quest would fail and that his friend Enkidu would die. You see it was a universally accepted belief in the ancient world that dreams were a direct line of communication to the gods.
Eventually this idea evolved beyond believing that our dreams have a supernatural significance as they transformed into the Freudian self-actualization era. What do I mean? One of the pioneers and founding fathers of psychology, Sigmund Freud believed that your dreams related to suppressed childhood trauma or repressed sexual desires. Hence Oedipus and Elektra complexes - these complexes are about people that can when looking for a mate sometimes be attracted or repulsed by certain traits in there their parental units. Why there’s some very insightful things to be said about our dreams revealing our inner feelings or past experiences, Freud didn’t really take the idea as far as many of his successors did. Such as say Erik Erickson with his ideas of the stages of psychology. Erickson believed that our experiences were broken up into several unique stages of your life - for example let’s take stage 6. Intimacy vs Isolation: the idea here is that at some point everyone will fight loneliness at the cost of finding intimate relationships and while this might be a powerful reality according to Erickson this reflects a stage in your life. So your dreams will have a shifting significance based on the position of interest in the separate stages of your life. Erik Erickson is also know for coining the phrase personality crisis. He speaks in volumes about our inner and outer struggles. Which it can be argued that our dreams are our subconscious minds attempting to make sense of our emotional truths. I highly recommend spending some time learning more about the psychologist Erik Erikson and his work it's just brilliant stuff.
Anyhoo the last reason I think we’ve learned to check out on our dreams is the shear bizarre nature of them. Which begins a very strange confession time - when I was a teenager I used pride myself with the ability to decode dreams. Yeah I know 18year old me was pretty pretentious and annoying. I may have spent a little to much time being raptured with the topic of dream interpretations. But let me give you an example. My roommate was once troubled by a bad dream he had where he was at the top of a rollercoaster and looking down as he saw if girlfriend and daughter looking up at him. He couldn't make heads or tails of it. So I told him in a confidence that laughably puzzles my present self that his dream was obvious. I said "you're dream means that you're filled with the anxiety of adulthood and the pressures to step up and be a responsible father and eventually a husband", for I knew he was going to be engaged and he was struggling to understand if it was for the right reasons. I think we all have sorta goofy things we think we understand when we're young and I looked at dreams like fun visual riddles. Yet my enigma cracking skills soon came to a complete halt after I had a dream that I died and went to hell. This dream changed everything I thought was so obvious and it shattered to my confidence.
The dream went like this:
I was at a party surrounded by strangers and everyone one was drinking from red plastic cups. With each sip from the red cups my vision got more and more blurry until I eventually tripped backwards into a pool. I saw the party goers circle over ahead laughing at me as I sunk deeper and deeper into the waters. Soon everything faded into the black. A moment later I instinctively know that I am in hell. All I see is blackness yet in the distance I can hear waves breaking. My vision begins to return and I see wooden planks. I now hear the creaking sounds of a ship rocking at sea. As I lift my eyes up I discover that I'm on a massive wooden barge in the middle of the ocean. I rush to the edge of the deck and the boat is towering hundreds and hundreds of feet out of a grey murky water. The horizon is a moonless, sunless twilight and surrounded all around me are people dressed in white tennis clothes listening to elevator music sipping lemonade and laughing. As I approach one of the people in white tennis clothes they freeze like in a picture and I peer into their eye. The facade of the elevator music and the calm soon evaporate as there true form appears. They're true forms are tortured gargoyle like figures wrapped in blisters consumed by flames. I take a deeper look into their eye and I see their sins like clips from a film. One man murdered someone in the heat of passion, a woman beats her children, and so on and so on I'm witnessing the memories of their sins. Then as I pulled back my view from their eyes there tormented true form disappears and they transform back to their serene selves with fake smiles. We're back again floating on the giant wooden barge heading no where listening to the elevator music, in white tennis clothes sipping lemonade, floating in the middle of the sea. Then from the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of a passenger running around. I take off in their direction. They scurry behind a wooden booth and I know deep down this creature is the devil. I turn the corner and there was the devil. The devil was an 8yr old little white boy dressed in an all black school uniform. I tried to catch him as he as he drops a black and yellow CD player. I pop open the CD player and throw away the elevator music and feel an urge to reach into my pocket. I find a cd in it so I place it in the CD player. The music is simple but up beat. As the music continues the giant wooden barge slowly morphs into a train peacefully headed towards a bright and gorgeous sunshine. The odd people in white tennis clothes no longer look like strangers but friends and now are wearing regular street clothes as lyrics begin to play over the trains speakers. We all seem to know the song and begin singing along with warm smiles strung across our faces. As the song dies down I can hear the train begin to tread water. I peak outside watching the waters rising higher and higher. In the distance towards the sunset I see a massive wave speeding towards the train. The wave hits the train and everything goes black then a deep murky grey and green. Rising to the surface I'm racing towards a flutter of tiny bubbles not sure of which way is up. As I bob out of the water I notice a wooden dock a few feet in front of me. As soon as I pull myself up I see a rush of bubbles in the water below and I reach down and retrieve a small grey dog soaked to the bone like myself. As I place the puppy beside me I realize I'm no longer my usual self but now I'm an 8yr old boy in a grey school uniform. I look around and I'm all alone in a vast ocean in a horizonless sky on a small dock with a singular light with my small dog. Then the dream ends. Perhaps it was a fourth meal Taco Bell sorta inspiration but it was one of the most incredibly memorable nightmares I've ever had. And that dream officially silenced my cocky obsession with thinking I could decode everyone's dreams. You see dreams are sometimes just odd. And it’s easy to stop paying attention to them. Even when they're sometimes troubling.
Yet dreams are so fascinating aren't they?! The rules of gravity or time don't seem to exist in dreams and sometimes they're not even linear are they. Some dreams are about the past, some are vivid and as vibrant as an actual real life event and some have a sort of cryptic feel to them like walking into a painting. They can make little or no sense at all. And even more strange to me is when we have similar dreams. Take for instance a common dream people have: you're losing your teeth or you're falling many dream researchers will say that those types of dreams reflect that you might be feeling like you're losing control of something in your life. Honestly I could talk about this at great lengths. I just find dreams so intriguing. But regardless of their exact meaning I believe dreams are a big part of what makes life great. You see I'm a dreamer. Always have been. I've got my head in the clouds a lot. So much so that I was convinced for years that the earmark of my friendships were how much of my future or dreams I shared with them. Now while this isn't without a strong importance in my life I came to this realization- truthfully since the creation of the Go Forth & Nerd podcast that it was actually my past not future dreams where I had the most treasure chests. And many of the treasure chest while not filled always with bright and shiny memories they were full of precious experiences and locked shut from the outside. I used to have such intense trust issues about sharing my pasts with others thinking people would try and shame or humiliate me. Thinking that if I shared an embarrassing piece of my past people had some strange hold on me. It's an important thing to note if you're ever speaking with a gifted counselor they'll express how when we're vulnerable in someone's presence we can end up creating false connections with the person you're sharing that vulnerability. Remember sharing your dreams involves trust but it should be about your personal growth first. What am I getting at. Even though memories and dreams are somewhat different animals they can be heavily tied to our personal vulnerability. And this is the powerful revelation I discovered: when I'm dead and gone what use will any of my stories ever have with the world if I never share them? Basically what value is any of our dreams if we keep them locked away and hidden? Sure there's reasons to lock them up but there's even greater reasons to share these profound cathartic experiences, letting your dreams loose on the world. Yes Go Forth & Nerd is part story time part personal therapy, part a plethora of other things as well. But our expression of our dreams is a creative force!
So while dreams might have historically been that lightning rod from God, or the self-actualization of the freudian couch cushion, or fevered Salvador Dali-esque painting I want to encourage you today by asking you a piercing question! What do you dream about? Is it the past, present, future or something even seemingly incomprehensible? And do you have trouble understanding or believing your dreams?
Granted dreams can sometimes be my brain replaying the day's events like a poorly edited reality tv show. I truly believe a defining feature of all nerds is that at our core we’re excellent dreamers! We dream the dreams that others want to dream then eventually read, or view. In my opinion nerds are the leading dreamers and storytellers of our age!
So this week let's explore our dreams together. Start a dream diary, a blog or act on some creative outlet that’s been gnawing at you. There’s no time like the present, so let's dream out loud together!
I want to thank you all so much again for listening. As always please feel free to send me an email or message if you’d like to chat. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Do take care and remember to Go Forth & Nerd!