Exploring reality?

flowers moon 020

It was one of those conversations where a simple thought ended up taking us a long way. There had been a dream… one of those where it seems more real than reality and a lifetime is lived in the space of a night, and though completely out of context in terms of the waking self, it has its own validity and depth.

In such dreams you have relationships… ones that feel, to the dreamer, to be as full and rounded as in an ordinary day. That’s where the discussion started. How do relationships work in dreams? They are built on memory… How can a dreamer have memories of events neither their dream-self nor their day-self has experienced? And if that is impossible, how can there be relationships of love, friendship, fear? And yet, when we dream, we feel them. An interesting one to ponder…

You could put it down to a ‘straightforward’ psychological ability to synthesise emotional relationships in dreams based on experience in ‘real life’. You might consider past life memories if you believe in that possibility. We considered the theory of parallel and multiple realities where a dream might be a glimpse through a rift between them… We came to no conclusions except that the phenomenon is strange, whatever the cause and must be akin to what is felt in full awareness with those who have visionary experiences.

The more you think about it, the odder it seems. Most of us can call up the image of a face of a stranger… any face will do… probably one you have seen but taken no note of that has lodged in the photographic part of the memory. The image may be sharp or hazy… but the emotions are basic, little more than a gut reaction, if that. What you are calling up is a deliberate construct. Nothing more than a mental photograph about which you know nothing.

It made me think, for some reason, of my experience with PTSD. The flashbacks take you into a snapshot of emotion… the images, sounds, sights and smells are all ‘real’ during an episode, a moving image in which you walk… but the memory is false, being stuck in a scenario that has lost its connection to time and cannot therefore move forward or be filed in the past.

When a face to which we have a connection already comes unbidden to the mind, it brings with it a whole raft of response based on the span of time and emotion shared up to this point as well as our feelings for what the future may hold. It calls up their history, our own and our shared story; you know so many things about that person… not just that face.

And that is where the problem of dreaming takes you; if a dream is no more than a mental construct, how can it have such depth? How can there be past and future? You know nothing of the past, present or future… you have no memories, no experience of the people you meet in sleep. They should be ‘flat’… their stories as empty as if you tried to show the whole of an epic trilogy in a single photographic frame… yet instead there are those who imprint themselves on our memories and find a place in our hearts or our fears, because, somehow, we know them.

Dreams bend the rules of normality in so many ways and the most ridiculous situations can seem absolutely feasible. The most meaningful of relationships can flower in what may be measured as the blink of a sleeper’s eyelid. We did come to one conclusion; perhaps, just perhaps, our dreams serve other purposes than those posited by psychologists and scientists… maybe they allow us to explore the impossible and through their very impossibilities and give us space to question our perception of reality itself.

15 thoughts on “Exploring reality?

  1. Interesting and something I have often thought on too without any real conclusion. Sometimes, I toy with the idea that this is a ‘vacation’. I paid a fee to come here and have a virtual experience. Perhaps the dream is the real life I have somewhere? Then I wonder whether we actually do live a life or if it is simply a day and my memories, hopes and fears are just programmed to give my day context? Perhaps, this is the dream and the dreams my actual life? I have been having the most complex and detailed dreams now for months. I sometimes feel exhausted when I wake up by my nocturnal activity. These dreams are rich in detail, memories, hopes, fears and involve people I know and people I do not. The common thread appears to be water – there is always water and lots of it. Oh well….. maybe one day, all will become clear.


    1. I imagine a good many of us have wondered along those lines, Gary…and if the dreamer cannot tell which is the dream, how would we ever know?
      You know enough about the symbolism of water to draw your own conclusions as far as your recent dreams are concerned. Oddly enough, Stu and I have been rather ‘watery’ lately too… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And they continue. Last night I navigated my way around some islands – I knew them yet it was as if from distant memory. I woke up several times, even visited the bathroom and still returned to my island exploration dream which had a second complex layer of playing bass for a band I’d never heard of so I had to improvise….. I tell you. I’m utterly exhausted this morning 🙂

        Also – there is a smidge of a chance I will join you in Derbyshire……..


        1. Have you noticed Stu and I have been writing about our recent wanderings round the Western Isles 😉 Tell you the rest if you get here in September…which would be wonderful 😉


  2. Intriguing post, Sue–I often wonder how some dreams/nightmares can have so much power to linger throughout a day…hours before, like wisps of clouds, they finally fade away.


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