Above: “Hood Angel”, Photo @ Eliza Alys Young
- a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep
- the sleeping state in which this occurs
- an involuntary vision occurring to a person when awake
- an object seen in a dream
- a vision voluntarily indulged in while awake; daydream; reverie
- to have a dream
- to indulge in daydreams or reveries
- to think or conceive of something in a very remote way
- to see or imagine in sleep or in a vision
- to imagine as if in a dream; fancy; suppose
- to pass or spend (time) in dreaming
- most desirable; ideal
The word “dream” can mean many things, can be active or passive, an object, action or description. Yet, no matter the meaning, in our lives today, especially in the Western, industrialized world, it seems that there is no room for dreams anymore. No one has time with our busy schedules full of multitasking. What’s more, few really see the value of dreams, many accounting them to a waste of time or laziness. I, however, know firsthand where dreams come from and how important it is to listen to them.
Dreams are messages from the subconscious, our intuitive nature. When we create art, write poetry or invent, we tap into the same nature. Any poet knows, for example, that one cannot write a poem while doing something else. It is not something you can multitask. The words, the images, the metaphors simply won’t come. Instead one has to disconnect a bit from our pressing reality of tasks, to do lists, schedules and responsibilities. One goes to a place in between our daily world and sleeping, a place of inspiration.
But our culture doesn’t allow us many opportunities to disconnect. Now more than ever we are connected, literally, plugged into technology, where we can be called, texted or emailed at any moment. That allows us no time for inspiration to surprise us.
Of course we must disconnect sometime so we do it through artificial means like alcohol. It is no accident that so many “inspired” people have addiction issues — drugs and alcohol are a highway to that subconscious world, a fast track way to disconnect. But although one reaches that intuitive state, the means dull the senses, deaden and garble the inspiration so only the truly brilliant can make sense of it. It is no substitute for dreaming.
As a child I had plenty of time to dream, far too much time actually, and dreams became a welcome pastime, a means to supersede my daily reality to something greater, to a place of happiness. I was a solitary child for two reasons: 1) a physical handicap kept me out of school often and made me visibly different to my peers; 2) I was a bright, eager student which brought much envy from my classmates.
Back then, healthcare was handled differently. Instead of the outpatient, rush out the door treatment that is used today, if you had surgery, you always stayed in the hospital for a while. In my case, it was a long while — several months each time. Between the age of 3 months to 18 years I had over 18 operations (medical records got lost so we don’t know exactly how many) so that was a lot of time in the hospital. Meanwhile my parents had divorced and were fighting which meant that they often weren’t able to visit me, especially when I was in the hospital so long — that gave me plenty of time with my own thoughts and…dreams.
Dreams come in many forms but they are all connected. The first dreams we become aware of are the surface or ego dreams. These are dreams of things we want which will feed our ego: new things, money, fame and success. These dreams serve a purpose in that they may motivate us to work harder, study more, and improve our self. But without deeper dreams, these surface dreams will never satisfy us. The deeper dreams are what I call soul dreams. These dreams are our deepest desire, what connects us to others, what we long for on our most fundamental level. For nearly all of us, our core soul dream is to be loved.
I had two profound dreams as a child; 1) to live in another country; 2) to find true, unconditional love. I don’t know why I had the first dream about living in another country but I had it just the same. I can’t remember when I didn’t have this dream. The second dream is a universal one but few dare to believe it, never mind dream it. For me, as a girl growing up with a handicap, teased and bullied by my peers, dreaming of true love took more than belief, it took courage.
For that is the power of dreams: the courage to try, to go beyond what we are comfortable with: to reach our desires. Without dreams we meander through life with good or bad luck, hoping to make good choices, fearful of the bad. We surrender without even trying; we give up all of our power. In order to dream you must believe in yourself, you must listen to your intuitive subconscious.
When we listen to our dreams, we are naturally guided towards the fulfillment of our dreams. I don’t mean this in an esoteric way like the Law of Attraction as was popularized by the book The Secret, but in a simply way that when we focus on something, we pay attention to it and that leads us to connections and opportunities. For example, if we dream of being a singer, then we learn everything we can about singing which makes us a better singer, thereby bringing us closer to our dream. We also talk to people about our dream and thereby connect with others which have similar dreams and/or who can help us reach our dreams. All of this comes about because we actively listen to, and believe in our dreams. It is not a passive process at all.
In my instance, I pursued both dreams throughout my life. My first dream of living in another country brought me unusual travel opportunities and many multicultural connections. One of these connections led me to actively fulfill my dream by moving to the Dominican Republic. I didn’t hesitate when the opportunity presented itself for me to realize my dream — one needs to be ready and willing to act and sacrifice for one’s dream.
On the one hand, it was a crazy, reckless thing to move to the Dominican Republic. I did not know Spanish, had meager work opportunity and few friends. But on the other hand, I could not ignore the opportunity because it so clearly fulfilled my dream. I acted upon it and now I am fluent in Spanish and have a rich cultural experience that will be a part of me forever.
Dreams and dreaming have been significant in all my life and I attribute this to the fact that I invested so much time to dreams in my youth. I have had many lucid dreams — dreams in which I am aware I am dreaming and can even steer the outcome. I have had prophetic dreams, often which repeat over and over until the event happens in real life. These prophetic dreams are not about dramatic world events but personal events in my life. One time I was in a relationship and I kept dreaming over and over that my boyfriend abruptly left me for another woman. I experienced deep sadness over and over in my dreams, only to find relief when I awoke, until one day when he did the exact same thing in waking life.
When it came to my second soul dream, that of finding true love, the specifics of that love, the feeling of that love, was shown to me many times through out my life in dreams. It was clearly a devoted love, a love that “picked me up off my feet”, where there was no drama, no doubt. It was an ambitious dream, a rare type of love, one which few dare to dream of, and in order to dream it, one had to believe one deserved it. When I would doubt my dream, I would settle into a relationship that was not fulfilling, which would cause the dreams to subside for a while. Then I would start to realize I had lost my way and I would move on. I haven’t found my soul love yet but I haven’t given up on my dreams. I know I will one day.
Dreams are not whimsy or a waste of time. They are an important connection to our deep self. By dreaming we grow, we learn, we achieve. If we pass our days glued to our smartphones, burdened by our workload, worried about our future, we will never move past it. We will never have the opportunity to connect with who we can be or what our life could become.