It’s very rare that I have a dream that is coherent enough to even be considered for meaning, and rarer still that the dream comes through powerfully, and memorably, enough to be useful. Usually they just seem like the brain is coasting its way through its normal mechanisms and habitual channels of thought while throwing out images and sounds that can be almost random.
Some people do seem to get something out of the process of dreaming. A certain kind of artistic temperament can find even the random images useful. Several artists that I admire, like William S. Burroughs, for example, have kept dream diaries and used elements of the dreams in their art. My general feeling, however, is that it’s best not to put too much stock in dreams.
Once in a great while, though, once in a great, great while there comes a dream that really stands up straight and speaks to you clearly. A dream that presents people from your life in recognizable, natural settings, speaking in their own natural voices and styles, and saying things that you can easily imagine them to have actually said. The people in the dream may include dead people, of course, since there is no impediment to their participation.
This one didn’t feature any dead people, but it was memorable.
I wrote the notes from this dream at 9:30 p.m. one night, having had the dream in the middle of the previous night and woken up at 7:00 a.m. that morning.
There was a family gathering of some kind, and the subject of my deceased father came up. “What would he say,” someone said, “if he were here?”
“Maybe,” I said, “he would say how glad he was to have a son who was so kindhearted and considerate, if, that is, he had a team of specialists with him to assist him, or highly sensitive instruments to interpret the data.”
The dream was with me throughout the following day. All through the dream, and in its aftermath, I felt the bitterness caused by my parents’ treatment and neglect, their quick judgments and their everlasting disappointments. But I also felt, both in the dream and after it, a certain diminution in the importance of such resentments. It all made me wonder if there was a real purpose behind dreaming after all. Maybe, maybe not. It’s still true that they are usually a waste of time.