An insubstantial pageant
Sigmund Freud said our dreams reflect the unconscious. If thatís the case I must be considerably more worried about things than Iím aware of when awake. The dreams that I remember are certainly anxiety dreams.
For instance, once I dreamed I was in the old Herald newsroom, where it has not been located for decades. It was on the middle of the north side of the present building. So there I was, about to write a story about an event Iíd covered, and couldnít find the notes Iíd written down about it. A frantic search through the papers on the desk didnít produce them, and here was deadline approaching. So I decided to write the story from memory.
I got started and all of a sudden I couldnít recall the speakerís middle initial. A scramble among the papers again, but the notes didnít appear. A heightened feeling of frustration at not being able to finish the story before deadline. So at that point I woke up still feeling anxious, but then tremendously glad to find it had been only a dream.
A lot of times the dreams involve travel of some sort. Driving a car, looking for a specific location. Suddenly thereís the location Iím looking for ó but itís on the opposite side of the thruway, and I canít locate any way of getting across, either by exit ramp or across the median strip.
Sometimes Iíll be upstairs in a large house and have to go down to the kitchen. Door after door is opened, descending stairway after stairway as halls loom on either side. But the ones I choose to take donít lead to the kitchen.
My parents and grandparents died years ago, but often when Iím dreaming about driving, one or more of them will be in the car with me. None of us express ourselves as being astonished at seeing each other after all these years. They are just there as part of the scenery, rarely talking and when talking uttering mere commonplaces that a person would if he was really a passenger. The dominant feeling at such times remains the sense of frustration at not being able to locate what Iím supposed to be taking these people to see.
Once in a while the dream will be about a gathering like a picnic, and there the problem is that the basket containing the picnic material doesnít have all the items that were supposed to be in it. Where are they? Someone in the party makes a suggestion, but when I follow that suggestion, the items still donít show up. In such dreams nobody else volunteers to look for the missing things. Iím always the only one who has to do it.
Curiously enough, the other people I dream about are never people who are still alive. I donít recall ever having a dream about the neighbors who are still here, or about the people now working at the Herald. The ones who inhabit my dreams have gone long since.
I suppose in a real analysis it would bring out what in my nature leads to the persistence of such anxiety dreams. But as it is, Iím just as glad to be away from them when awake.
Kendall Wild is a retired editor of the Herald.