Perchance to Dream

I fear that I am a boring dreamer. Not that I don’t often enjoy my own dreams, but they are almost never adventurous or erotic or exciting or even bizarre in any way whatsoever. I read some of the descriptions of dreams posted on Facebook and think, “Wow! I’d like to dream that.”

On the other hand, and perhaps this is no big surprise in a writer of detective novels, I often dream mysteries.

Before I explain what I mean by “mystery” in this context, perhaps I should offer a little broader context. There may be some things you think you know about dreaming that researchers no longer believe.

For instance, it seems that one does not dream only during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Dreaming can occur even during relaxed waking states when lying quietly in a darkened room. Also, most dreams are more coherent, reasonable, and focused on everyday life than traditional cultural stereotypes—and clinical theorists—have assumed. And a third point: it’s now known that dream content has a striking consistency over months, years, and even decades in types of characters (e.g., parents, friends), social interactions (e.g., percentages of aggressive, friendly, and sexual interactions), and types of activities (e.g., eating, playing a sport). There is in other words a coherence and regularity to dreaming.

All of which makes me feel a little better about the consistency of my dreams and the lack of pirate ships or space opera therein.

So back to what I have consistently dreamed over the years. Not mysteries of sort I write, mind you. No detectives during my nights, no serial killers or even gunplay. Most often I find myself in some kind of complex environment (a huge building, a college campus, a network of freeways or city streets or even tunnels) looking for something. I’ve lost track of someone or left my briefcase or can’t remember quite where I’ve parked my car…all sorts of scenarios like that. I’m usually alone but sometimes accompanied by one or another of the women I’ve been close to in my life.

Always seeking—and, until recent years, almost never finding. That’s one pleasant change. Quite often now I find whatever it was I was looking for just before I wake up.

Another unusual aspect of my dreaming, at least if you take the anecdotes of others into account: I’ve had very few nightmares in my life. Nightmares I’ve remembered, at any rate. Is it possible to have a nightmare that you don’t remember upon awakening? I think the answer must be no. That’s like asking if there were a pain you didn’t feel. Thus my nightmares could be counted on one hand. Not that I’m complaining about that.

So: While I am sometimes envious of the elaborate sexcapades and bizarre adventures reported by other dreamers, I do generally have a good time at night. Especially now that I often find what I’m looking for.

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