Recently, I Googled “Why do we dream?” What I learned was that scientists don’t really know. There are a jillion theories.
For example, one source argues it’s merely the brain responding to biochemical and electrical impulses that occur during sleep. Another believes dreaming “is a form of consciousness that somehow unites past, present and future in processing information from the first two and preparing for the third.”
As I grow older, I dream more, but usually the adventure fades quickly from my memory. This is good, since although my dreams are not often “nightmares,” they sometimes are negative in their story line. Occasionally it’s a relief to wake up.
For example, there is a recurring theme in some dreams, a pattern I think was handed down to me genetically by my father, Kermit Vorland, 1911-1991.
In his later years, when dad traveled an unfamiliar highway, he fretted about getting lost, so much so that at about the age I am now he announced “the sun will never set on me again outside Wells County.”
And it didn’t.
I’ve experienced variations of a dream evoking the angst dad felt sometimes while driving awake. Typically, I am lost in a large urban building, usually a hotel, or on a mountain road.
In July, my daughter Kristi witnessed a live example of “Kermit fretting.” I worried excessively out loud while she reversed direction and calmly drove down a high, steep and very narrow gravel road without guard rails in the mountains near Ketchum, Idaho. I certainly don’t want to relive THAT experience in a dream.
My favorite French author, Marcel Proust ,was also interested in the phenomena of sleeping and dreaming. The first sentence of his novel, “In Search of Lost Time reads, “Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure” (For a long time I went to bed early).
But it’s a later Proustian passage that best describes the drama of dreaming:
“Then, suddenly, I was unconscious, submerged in the dense sleep that reveals to us mysteries such as youth regained, the rediscovery of years past, emotions once felt, disincarnation, the transmigration of souls, the summoning up of the dead, the illusions of the mad, travel in time back to the most primitive stages of nature, mysteries which we think are closed to us, yet which we are admitted to almost every night, just as we are to the other great mystery of annihilation and resurrection.”
Yes, that captures it.