You And I Walk By Night With A Cast Of Ghosts

Time Magazine this week features an article:”Shhh! Genius At Work.” It walks us through some of the amazing mysteries to sleep. Both religion and science have been intrigued with these mysteries ever since the Bible described Adam falling asleep in the Garden, later the Greeks saw in dreams messages from the gods, later still Shakespeare had Hamlet learn secrets from the ghost of his father.

Science considers mysteries such as these as problems to be solved. Religion and playwrights tend to engage the mysteries they meet on their own terms. You and I have a choice each morning waking up to the question: What was that crazy dream all about…?

Psychiatry has helped explain how dreams are REM moments in which faces and plots from our waking world collide into our sleeping world. Putting aside the mounds of jaw-dropping theories, one part of our dreaming seems simple and clear. The cast of characters we encounter in our waking world somehow cross the stage of our sleeping world. Usually in disguise.

They are disguised in different appearances…situations…relationships…purposes…and connections with us as we move, triumphantly or terrifyingly, through our dream’s plot line. And while all this has become more understood when it comes to the important people in our lives, what is less understood are the occasional entrances of various bit or canceled players.

They appear in the action without much reason or rhyme. Your third grade teacher…your mail carrier …that cashier at the supermarket…a long-dead cousin…a boss you once had and hated…a young girl you once dated and loved…your children, but now all younger…your dead parents…oh and Mickey Mantle and President Obama. What’s going on here?

Unqualified to answer that question, may I simply leave this thought. You and I are also “bit and canceled players” in the dreams of friends and strangers alike. So know this. Tonight, you and I are likely to appear for a mysterious moment in someone’s dreams. A someone we haven’t seen for years or who we can’t even remember meeting.

Ready for your entrance? Cue that dream! And remember, in some mysterious way we and the other 7 billion dreamers are all part of the same play.

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  • We all need a shrink for this one, but Dr. Bob Hartley probably wouldn't help.

    I kept getting dreams about where I worked 25 years ago, and that I had not sold a house (which I did not own) before moving there. Somehow in those dreams it comes up that I still have to do the work I do now. When I mentioned that to my mother, she says she still has dreams about where she worked 30 years ago.

    In the meantime, I'm still not getting the work I have now done.

  • In reply to jack:

    Let me put it this way -- instead of the cliche "pleasant dreams," may I wish you "interesting dreams"

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