I was sitting in the kitchen with my cup of tea one morning when my aunt and my cousin, her daughter, walked in and joined me. Nothing unusual about that, you might say, except that both are long dead. Neither said anything to me but it was apparent from their demeanor that they were aware of my presence. It was disconcerting enough that I awoke with a start and stared around the room, half expecting to see them standing next to the bed. Dreams of ghosts, both known and unknown, are not uncommon to me and, for reassurance after such dreams, I reach out to my sleeping wife, trying not to wake her. Sometimes I succeed. Without going into a lot of detail, dreams offer a window to the psyche it is said, I will say that ghosts have haunted my dreams since earliest childhood. They rarely, if ever, talk to me but their presence is always disconcerting.
Given my personal experience dreaming of ghosts, I had thought such dreams rather common. An internet search suggests otherwise. Apparently, they don’t even make the top 5. Dreaming of falling seems to top most lists as do dreams about flying. I can remember both types of dreams but have not had either in quite a long time. I was surprised to see that dreams about your teeth falling out made the list. Really? Also making the top 5 were dreams about being naked in public. I remember those but, again, haven’t had one in a good long while. Probably just as well as I don’t think I would react well to a dream where people broke out laughing at my appearance. Number five on the list most commonly are dreams about being chased. In my case, I might want to move this one up a notch or two. None of the surveys I looked at give any idea of age ranges for various dreams and it would be interesting to see if the list changes emphasis as one grows older. I suspect it does. This suspicion is born out by a science paper done by a friend based on a dream survey of the most common dreams. She discovered that most people actually found dreams of dead relatives to be comforting and perhaps more prevalent than the top 5 survey suggests.
I dream in color, by the way. Whether people dreamed in color or in black and white was the subject of some debate in the 1950s. While opinion leaned towards the conclusion that people did dream in color, some researchers on the subject maintained that actually everyone dreamed in black and white and that some of us only thought we dreamt in color. According to this view, now discounted, we subconsciously add the color after we awaken. Huh?
That dreams are occasionally a topic of discussion among friends it not at all surprising. Discounting the occasional odd person who claims that he or she “doesn’t dream at all,” people appear willing to talk about their dreams, especially when they are unusual or troubling. We talk about our dreams, it seems, in an effort to understand what they mean. The symbolism our brains can cook up can be especially convoluted at times and outside opinion can help to clarify matters. I always enjoy hearing the dreams of others as they invariably are more interesting than my own. A case in point is the dream related to me by my dream survey friend recently. She related that she dreamt “that aliens had stolen our nuclear launch codes and were launching our own missiles against us. I saw the first missile approaching and ran to tell people, but then it was too late and we saw a whole stream of them coming at us. I had time to pray that it would be quick and painless. The it was oblivion. I remember thinking that this was what “nothing” was like. It was only a little bit painful, as I could feel everything being unmade.” Now, there’s a dream.