Monday, January 27, 2014

The Occasional Significance of Dreams

To my knowledge, dreams are utterly meaningless. They are not signs of things to come and they are not indicative of your character, they are simply random firings of your brain that translate into odd (and sometimes scary, fantastic, or arousing) experiences that you more than likely forget when you awaken. They are significant in the sense that they (theoretically) help your brain to reset, or perhaps to organize and make sense of your memories, but otherwise there's nothing significant about them.

Unless you, like myself, are a writer.

Though most of my dreams are complete rubbish and don't even follow any discernible single line of thought, occasionally one serves a greater purpose. Every once in a while a dream is just as significant as a real experience.

As a brief example: I recall a dream in which I was lined up, along with my family, for execution. Upon awaking from this dream (a hair before the trigger was pulled on me, and after hearing it pulled on my father, and feeling the dread of knowing that he was gone forever and that I was about to be banished to the same nothingness), though the experience was completely fabricated, the emotional impact it left me with was very real. That dream taught me to fear death, and I got to experience just how my mind would react to such a situation (terrified, confused, etc). In a very safe way it allowed me to experience something that nobody should ever have to experience (though I would dare not attempt to empathize with someone who really has gone through it).

Though that dream was more significant in the sense that it allowed me to experience emotions I've never experienced (and hopefully will never experience), occasionally I have a dream that simply tells a story. This happened to me a few nights ago, which is the first time in at least seven years that a dream has made enough sense to influence my writing.

When I awoke from this fantastic dream, I was eager to share it with my wife-to-be. It was exciting, it was unique, and it actually made sense! As the day progressed, the dream stayed with me. It was already quite an interesting idea, but it didn't yet fit into the frame of my style of writing. Luckily, as I pondered ways to make it fit, I recalled an unfinished idea I'd come up with years before, and by golly they fit together!

The dream and the idea not only complimented each other, but they fed each other! My thoughts began to run rampant with how the two ideas could coexist and what else that would mean for the story. More ideas came to me; building off of each other until I'd developed a stronger concept for a novel than I'd been able to come up with on my own for years!

It's absolutely exciting as a writer to be able to find use for something that is, for most people, nearly completely useless. It is even more exciting to know that inspiration can really come from anywhere, even deep within my own thoughts, in an area I cannot control.

My life influenced the dream, and the dream influenced me. It's like getting advice from myself!

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