A thought for the day — dreams (both in a sleep sense and in aspiration sense) are so integral to the human condition that we can’t exist without either.
Funny that dreams (in the sense of hopes and desires) is the same word as the one that describes how we spend 1/3 or more of our time here on earth (asleep). For most of us in western society, there seems to be an unreality about both–dreams as in aspirations and dreams when we are asleep–not something real.
When Freud and then Jung showed up, much meaning became attached to our night-time excursions into that fantasy world–but for Freud– at least– the significance was just as illumination of the psyche–and also for Freud: a phenomenon the result of repressed sexual desire. Jung– a devotee of Freud’s originally– parted ways with him over his limited view of dreams and the motivations of humans. He also believed there were some paranormal or unexplained things that revealed us to ourselves — a synchronicity — or meaningful accidents that seemed to include our dream-lives (sleep dreams).
Jung thought that Freud placed his personal narcissism above the quest for truth. Jung considered Freud too reductionist. He could not accept that the main drive in human life is sexual. Instead, he defined libido as psychic energy or life force, of which sexuality is just one manifestation. Jung came to believe that the tie between a child and its mother was not one of latent incestuous passion, but stemmed from the fact that the mother was the primary provider of love and care. Thus, he saw dreams in a broader context as well.
Other cultures –most indigenous cultures– considered their dream worlds as much “reality” as the time they spent “awake” and felt that that dream “reality” was more significant to our human experience than walking around supposedly “awake.”
One thing I think I’ve figured out about “dreaming”–both night-time and otherwise — is that it really is not a journey “inward” or some kind of psychological curiosity or oddity. They are a chance to venture “outward” in ways we don’t do in our “awake” lives–or the personas we present to others. It’s perhaps a chance to connect with others, both alive and dead (soul travels), perhaps even to connect in an evolutionary sense with our ancestors. A portal even?
Hemingway claimed he was happiest in his dreams. Other writers claim their whole works came to them in dreams. Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club was one she said came to her in a dream. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (a comment on male attitudes not just science), Stephenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stephen King’s Misery. Hm on the horror stories. But lots of other stories or premonitions arrived in dreams. Jung himself dreamed, reoccurringly, of the beginning of WWI. Many people have had dreams, premonitions, that later saved their lives.
This can only be a venturing outward, not inward, some difference, at the very least, in a perception of time–an experience that transcends “self.”
Another thing I know: our dreams– in all senses of that word– save us.