August 8, 2016

My co-worker texted me at 10:30 this morning to ask about the location of a new set of keys. Normally I wouldn’t care much about a text that early in the day – and yes, that is early in the day – except for the fact that I’d gone to bed five and a half hours earlier. What’s worse is that it wasn’t the first time I’d been woken up this morning. That had happened two hours earlier due to some construction.

That intrusion got me out of bed to check my phone and see what time it was. The mistake I made then was to take the phone with me back to bed. Yes, this made it convenient when my co-worker texted me, but it also gave me the option to start scrolling through Facebook after the missing key issue was resolved. It wasn’t for about ten minutes until I realized what a bad idea that was.

It made me forget the dream I’d been having.

I’m not one to see too much in what dreams mean, although I do believe that most of them mean something, albeit on a much smaller scale than what physics and whatnots would tell you. The best analogy I’ve ever heard for what dreams mean is when someone compared it to your brain (and specifically your subconscious) taking a dump. It’s just how the mind cleans house every night.

To me this is most obvious in the number of dreams people have that are anxiety based and work related. It’d be nice to think that once we went to sleep everything that was stressing us out just blissfully disappeared for the evening, but for most of us that ain’t gonna happen. The brain doesn’t switch off, it just switches gears.

The suggestion is for people that want to remember their dreams is to keep a journal by their bed and start writing down what they remember the moment they wake up. I’ve done this before and I can attest to it working in two ways. One, if you wait too long the memories fragment off and disappear rather quickly and two, the more you start to recall and write down, the more you will recall, bringing up details that you might have already thought you forgot. But back to this morning’s dream.

I’m not upset that I can’t remember it. i don’t think it was going to solve my problems or reveal winning lottery numbers. But what I do remember about it is that I enjoyed it. It was a fun, pleasant dream, like my mind decided to take me to the movies. And unwittingly my co-worker gave me the opportunity to enjoy that dream. Yes, the alert from his text message in waking me up may have ended it prematurely, but it still gave me the opportunity to lay in bed and recall it and the pleasant sensations, kind of a warm way to ease into being awake and starting my day.

(And before we go any further, if it’s there get your mind out of the gutter. It wasn’t remotely that kind of a dream.)

Instead I opted to see what had happened in the world of Facebook in the last two hours. Let me repeat that: It was more important for me to find out what might have happened between 8:30 and 10:30 in the land of social media than it was to spend a few minutes with myself. When I’d gotten my phone the first time this morning I’d done the same thing: scrolled through to see what I’d missed between roughly 4:15 and 8:30. (Newsflash: not much.) Granted at 8:30 I KNEW I was going back to sleep and there would be some future moment when I would be waking up for good to start my day. Too bad I didn’t take advantage of it when it happened.

This is by no means a screed against technology. If it weren’t for technology odds are I wouldn’t know you and you wouldn’t be reading this. It’s more a reflection of how quickly people become cultured to it and at what cost. To me waking up is one of those pure moments of opportunity. I’m not talking in a “Great! Time to seize the day!” sort of way that some unnatural freaks can manage even before they’ve peed or had a cup of coffee. I mean just just has the brain has switched gears once to get us to sleep, it needs to switch back, and rarely do we have the opportunity to let it happen naturally. Almost always there is something waking us up: the alarm clock, the phone, construction, even chirping birds. I mean, the birds sounds sweet and pastoral, but it’s still an intrusion on our sleep patterns. (If you don’t believe me and still thinks it’s nice and sweet, replace “chirping birds” with “crowing roosters.”)

Waking up is a transition. Not just the brain switching gears, but our heart rate increases, increasing blood flow, our breathing changes, bringing more oxygen to our muscles, even our body temperature increase. It’s a big change, and I think too often many people wake up as if it’s a light switch, off and on, and not a dimmer, gradually allowing ourselves to adjust to the new day.

And if I wait ten minutes before checking Facebook, I’m probably only missing political posts, cat videos and a story about someone doing something stupid in Florida.

Bonus Track: this song has nothing to do with the post. Today my dad would have been 81. This is a song from one of only two musicals I think he actually liked (“Man of La Mancha” being the other) that reminds me of him, thanks to one community theater production we went to as a family, and the attention the singer gave to him as she walked through the audience. Click here to enjoy it. Happy birthday Pops.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>