Thursday, December 07, 2006


Every night when I settle into my pillow, a strange thing happens. Just as I close my eyes and allow my brain to float… to drift… to slow down, dreams from the previous night flash before my mind’s eye. Bits and pieces of vivid scenes flit and dissolve into sensations, movement, colors, buildings, and people. A sense of place evolves, and it is always the locale of the dream that occurred the night before.

What’s going on here? I rarely think of the dreams during the day, but when it happens, it’s like a light bulb clicks on in my head and I remember it, often in its entirety.

For example, on Monday night the most powerful dream of the evening involved me running around Salzburg. That’s right, I took off for Austria in my pajamas and wandered cobblestone streets, passed high-spired churches, and drooled over delicacies in bakery windows. There was a sense of urgency that went with this dream, a searching for … something or someone. Maybe it was an apple strudel or Berliner (jelly donut). I can’t remember. But the scenes, streets, buildings, all came back as soon as my head hit the pillow the next night. In seconds. Maybe milliseconds.

On Tuesday, I dreamed of my father. He passed nine years ago, and although you might think it odd, I consider these dreams “visits” with him. They are always pleasant, full of conversation, validation, and affection. In this dream, he was teaching me how to filet a fish. Dad was a great fisherman. I guess in Heaven cleaning a fish isn’t quite as gross as in real life. This fish had no stinky innards and its flesh was flakey and white, as if already grilled to perfection with lemon and plenty of butter.

On Wednesday, similar images returned before I moved on to new dreams. I saw Dad, the fish, and then swirled into a new adventure.

Is there a scratch pad memory in our brains that keeps an imprint there from the night before? The Dream RAM, or something? Maybe that’s it.

Some of my best dreams – mostly the ones involving skiing on gorgeous fluffy snowy hills – come back as well, months or years later. Now, see, it’s extra cool because I don’t downhill ski (I’m a wimp), but I do cross-country. Merged in these dreams are the thrilling sensations of sledding down a hill with the freedom of being upright on skis. With no fear, of course, and no falls. It’s bliss.

Then there are the recurring dreams. Like the one where I can’t find my locker in school, or my class schedule has disappeared and I panic.

How long has it been since I’ve wandered the academic hallways?


The flying dream also recurs frequently. I cherish that one. Willing myself from my earthly bonds, I lift up, higher and higher, until with arms spread I soar across the skies. Sigh. It’s the best one of all.

These connections, from night to night, as well as the connections with loved ones lost, are not dissimilar to another sensation that hits me daily.

When I’m writing a novel, I need to be in a certain zone, immersed fully in the story and in my character’s mind before I can move on to the next chapter. I write a chapter a day, in good times, and each night before I begin the next chapter I need to review the work from the day before to get into that zone. I ease into it, with anti-noise headphones doing their thing, relaxed in my comfy leather chair with my dog beside me. It’s connecting, it’s establishing the ground plane, and it’s essential. The feeling is not unlike that dreamy quality of just-before-you-sleep drowsiness. There’s a bit of a dreamlike quality to writing. After all, it’s all happening through pictures in your head. Right?

Is it close to the subliminal? Do writers tap near their subconscious when they create? Is it like this for an artist or musician?

I wouldn’t be surprised.

The layers of our lives are complex. Those deep-seated pockets of the subconscious, where fears from childhood fester, are not impossible to breach with focused therapy. The middle ground – the place where we dream – floats beneath consciousness and above fundamental memories, wafting like clouds waiting to descend. They’re all connected.

The next time you lay down to dream – notice what happens. Can you connect the events to the night before? To a commercial you saw on TV? A dialog you read in a book? A fervent desire? Think about it.

And remember, we’re all connected. Whether through God, oxygen, atoms, the net, or something more ethereal and lovely. We're all connected.


Last week it was almost 70 degrees; today the temps plunged. Here's a pic of me doing the lunch walk today. Brrrrrr.....


Anonymous said...

Sorry you couldn't log into my blog, Aaron!

You already know what I'm going to say about this post, don't you? Shall I go ahead, or do you want to?

"I'm so _________!!!"

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

I'll hazard a guess that you said you are so "jealous?" I know you've told us in the past that you don't dream very often. I can't imagine not dreaming, it's such an integral part of my night. Weird, huh? But I still think it's because I almost always make sure I get a solid 8 hours of sleep. Can't function or feel good without it. I know you wish you could get more, but life is just not cooperating right now!

Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Aaron, I dream all of the time. At least when I'm sleeping. Most of the time they are related to something that has happened recently or something I saw or heard about. My wife seldom dreams. Strange.

Anonymous said...

Aaron, you know me like a book!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

So, Steve, whaddya think? Is it a guy thing? Sure, sample of two, that makes great statistical sense, Aaron! LOL. Hey, thanks for stopping by, Steve. Great to hear from you.

And Val - you are a pleasure to know. Always a hoot, great independent thinker, and a stupendous writer. Thanks!

s.w. vaughn said...

Oooh, what a lovely post! I love the idea of "dream RAM"! Your imagination is turned on 24-7, Aaron! Awesome!

Myself, I don't like the flying dreams. At the end, I always fall. I read somewhere that if you have a flying dream, and you start to fall, and you don't wake up before you hit the ground, you'll die in your sleep... er, sorry, that's a little macabre for this post.

Okay, how about this: I remember a dream I had this morning, between Andrew getting up and me getting up. We were all going to the beach (my sister was making us), except for my cousin and his wife, who wanted to stay because they were playing softball with the dinosaurs... there were all these enormous T-rexes in the stands, and some of them wore baseball caps...

Yeah, that was really weird. :-)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Now THAT is cool, Sonya! Dinosaurs in baseball caps. Somehow, I'm not surprised, knowing your capacity for imagination. On the outside, you fool folks into thinking your a hard working shy mom who sits at the computer all day. But I know what lurks in that fertile imagination of yours!!! Outstanding stuff. ;o)

This morning I dreamed I was capturing scenes in my life for posterity - they were in file cabinets, and I was wheeling them, "somewhere," for storage. Hope it doesn't mean that my time is up!!! LOL.

Anonymous said...

Aaron, it might be a guy thing. We have to think about some things before we do them. Ladies know what has to be done and they just do it. Could that be the answer? Probably not.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, Steve. Yeah, LOL. I have this running itinerary in my head that never stops - super planner am I. Always have a list of what's due, what's needed, what I'm achin' for (writing time!), etc. that bubbles up there and won't quit. Even on vacation, ya know? Like "oh, I'll have so much extra time to finally get to those reviews and edit my friend's ms and rewrite that old book that stunk and write a new Seedlings column and, and, and... Sigh. Know what I mean?