My Dad used to say that he almost never dreamed in his sleep, but when he did it was a doosey. Last night was one of those nights.
For some reason, my bed is out in the middle of a pasture. It’s broad daylight. My wife and I are obviously trying to go to sleep. The fact that the bed is outdoors seems normal in this dream. I’m seeing this like I’m watching an old 8mm home movie. The weird part is that the bed is full of puppies. Like 30 puppies. Yelping. Licking. Tussling. Driving me crazy so that I can’t go to sleep.
My wife seems oblivious to them. She’s just laying over there sound asleep. No puppies on her side of the bed. I’m standing next to the bed because there’s no room for me. I’m picking up puppies and putting them on the ground. But no matter how many I put out of the bed, there’s more.
I’m dog tired. Or, maybe tired of little pint-sized dogs keeping me from going to sleep. I’m getting fed up with puppies. Which is not like me. I like puppies. Yet, in my agitation, I start grabbing puppies and tossing them like baseballs out across the pasture. Who would do this? I’m not sure what happens to them, but each time I chuck one as far away as I can, ten more take his place. It’s puppy mania.
In that region between sleep and wakefulness, I feel my arms twitching. I’m hot and all worked up. The home movie is beginning to fade out. I can see little white and brown puppies, but I can’t hear them anymore. Then . . . I’m staring at the clock radio on the bedside table. 12:10AM. The inside of my elbows and the backside of my knees are wet with sweat.
I sit up on the side of the bed in the dark. No pasture. No puppies. Just silence. I look over my shoulder, and sure enough my wife is sound asleep. I stumble to the living room to check the thermostat. It feels like the heat is on 82°. Max greets me in the dark and noses my backside. The temperature reads 69°. I make my way back to the bed in the dark. Pull the covers up. I’m gone in a heartbeat.
I think most dreams are born out of anxiety. But I can’t really think of anything over which I am disturbed to the point of being attacked by puppies. In fact, I’m pretty content with most everything in life right now. Work is good. Family is good. It’s been a strange year of ups and downs, triumphs and heartbreaks, challenges and setbacks. But such is life, right?
About the only thing that is driving me crazy right now is this itch I have in the region of my right shoulder blade. Dry skin, I guess. It’s been driving me nuts for a couple weeks now. The thing is, the spot that itches is just out of reach. I contort and stretch and bend and twist, but I can’t quite get to it. I’ve got a bamboo back scratcher, but not always on me. I find myself rubbing up against the door jamb like an old cow.
Growing up, we had a power pole in the pasture next to the house. It used to hold the wire that fed power to the barn. Three light sockets hanging with pull chains. One over the feed box where we milked. One in the tractor shed. And one in the corn crib. The pole had one guy wire that anchored it, and the cows would press their backs up against that wire to scratch. The pole would sway. Wires bouncing all the way to the barn. That’s me trying to get some relief.
Every now and then I’ll ask my wife to help me out. “Would you mind scratching my back?”
She’s never been too enthusiastic about this, but she has great fingernails. She aimlessly starts to scratch.
“To the left.” I have to give instructions to locate the spot. “No, down further. Up just a little bit. A little to the right. You went past it. Down a smidge. Awhhhhhh!!!!” One of the more gratifying moments in life has just occurred.
Sometimes I think I need an interpreter for my dreams. Most of them make absolutely no sense at all. Fraud thought that dreams were the fulfillment of repressed wishes. Yeah. I’ve always wanted a bed full of puppies.
Theories of interpretation are all over the map. While we sleep, our brains use chaotic and creative images to help us develop new ideas. And, I admit, there have been a few times when I woke from dream and thought to myself that I should get up and write that down. Naw, no way I’ll forget that. And the next morning I can’t remember a thing.
Einstein’s theory of relativity came to him in a dream about cows. The sewing machine came to Elias Howe in a dream about cannibals preparing to eat him, holding spears with little holes in the blade at the tip. Paul McCartney awoke from a deep dream to write out the melody to “Yesterday”. The original words he used to hold the tune in his head? “Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby how I love your legs.”
They say that in our dreams we are rehearsing situations and conflicts that help us avoid making mistakes in real life. I’m guessing that this is why I’ve never gone to the Mall in just my underwear. Finding oneself out in public with nothing on but a white pair of Haines is not a situation that I’d like to live out. Case in point, my dreams have helped me to avoid real embarrassment.
I never really know what to do with some of the crazy dreams I have. I think it’s just restless old age catching up with me. I don’t feel like I sleep very soundly anymore. Sometimes my mind works on problem solving. How to make a thingamabob that will make the doohicky work like I want it to work. My wife says she always dreams about army men coming into the house through the bedroom window. From time to time, I’ll dream about walking through a maze of corridors trying to find a door that can never be found.
If I could choose my dreams, they would be about family and friends. I’d dream about rocking chairs and holding hands on our 75th wedding anniversary. If I make it to 96 I’ll see that dream come true. I’d dream about walking the fields where I grew up. Fishing with my Dad would be on the list. Making music and singing the best songs, though I’m not much of a musician or a singer. I’ve always wished I could sing Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band”.
I’d dream about heaven and the things that no man can adequately describe. I’d dream about my grandkids and all the giggles and great moments they will surely have in this life. I’d see my kids older and wiser and full of the things that really matter. I’d dream of a thousand faces and all the incredible people I’ve known who have shaped the man I’ve become.
But we don’t choose our dreams. I guess I’ll have to settle for puppies. Lawd, I hope they let me rest tonight.