Who is having crazy dreams? The end of my last one goes like this: Somehow I find myself in a medium-sized jet where I quickly realize there is no one at the helm. (Insert expetive.) No one is flying the plane! The other faceless passengers seem immobilized—dumbstruck—and so I jump in the cockpit and start barking orders as I scan the horizon to assess if either landing safely or at least not dying is at all possible. Get your gear on. Hurry! I’m gesturing wildly to the two other adults, plus there’s a child and a dog. I keep urging everyone to buckle up and get their parachutes ready as I fumble with the controls, gently test the steering wheel, and sharply tug to tighten the strap on my own harness. Meanwhile, we are hurtling down, towards a rocky hillside well on the outskirts of a populous city. One last time I yell: Grab the dog. Hold onto the kid! The ground zooms closer and grows larger through the cockpit window, and then…GAME OVER. I wake breathless.
A therapist might conclude that this nail-biting dream is my brain’s way of working through feelings related to my need to take action and be in charge, frequently, lest some unforeseen disaster inevitably strike. While there is some truth to this, I recently learned that “live or die” dreams are not uncommon during the current Coronavirus pandemic; none of us are in control, we are all scared, and trying to find a safe harbor seems mostly futile. Somehow, the brain has got to process this scary shit, since the conscious mind is trying its best to help us forget about it.
I used to be a dreamer. I used to think big, aspire more, make lists of goals, hang rah-rah post-it notes around my desk, and espouse the benefits of positive self-talk. I’ve always been a thinker and a doer, and I’ve always been flush with ideas. But lately, I’m quiet. And when a person like me becomes quiet, something is not right. In fact, when a person like me stops dreaming, planning, writing, and doing, there’s trouble in River City. And that’s just what I confessed to a friend the other day. Without dreaming I feel dead, I said. To dream is to have hope in a better tomorrow, and right now I could use some of that. I’m ready to hit Pause on this nightmare and get back to the business of sweet dreams. How about you?