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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Dreams are strange and wonderful phenomena, perhaps serving some psychologically beneficial purpose besides entertaining us while we sleep. In less enlightened times they were thought to be portents of future events but nowadays we know they’re merely expressions of deep-seated fears and desires emanating from our subconscious. Some people claim they never dream while I dream every night, sometimes having more than just one that I can recall but for a fleeting moment before having them fade from memory.
There have been a few that were so scary they were never forgotten even though happening in childhood, while others were special because they were in color. I never realized that most dreams are in black and white until a technicolor one appeared, and it was so dramatically special as to be instantaneously recognized as a unique occurrence. If you ever had that experience you know what I mean, but if not it’s a shame.
Over the years on rare occasions I’ve had a terrifying nightmare, not enough to be memorable for more than a few hours but so frightening that I actually yelled “help,” so loudly that my wife was awakened to then shake me into consciousness, which in my stupor seemed to be saving me from imminent disaster. Each time that occurred I’d thank her for the rescue and then lie there chuckling for a minute or two before falling back asleep. It sounds dumb but it became a running joke between us, she being my faithful midnight savior.
Since my retirement those night frights have pretty much stopped, though oddly enough were replaced by a recurring dream of being lost in an unfamiliar city neighborhood and unable to find someone to direct me out. Unlike the common dreams that many people have occasionally of being lead-footed with an inability to run away from danger, or of falling, mine entails bizarre situations that keep changing, so much so and so frequently that I eventually realize it has to be imaginary and actually say “this must be a dream” while still asleep. Then waking to find it actually was an illusion of the mind I always get a feeling of relief and well-being. If that’s a sign of some sort of insanity I just hope I keep waking up, for being perpetually lost would be a real nightmare.
I cannot imagine what in my life is stimulating such frequent feelings of being lost, but a gift I recently received for Father’s Day might hopefully be a cure. I don’t know if it will affect my fantasies while asleep but I now have a GPS to direct me to destinations while awake. The thing is truly a marvel of modern technology and if it prevents me from losing my way while asleep that would be yet another of its benefits, making it that much more of a miraculous dream come true.