Dreams

Dreams are improv sketches seeded by recent events, designed to sharpen our intuitions upon waking

I noticed in my dream journals that each dream contains 50 or so elements from my waking life. I can always point to something in the dream and say, "Oh, that's because I smelled that chapstick" or "That's because of that grimace on my co-worker's face."

Your internal dream-maker is a playwright whose resources are your buffer of interesting incidents from the week. He or she then puts on a show with all these elements colliding with each other. Think of it like an improv skit with audience-participation, where you're the only audience member. The skit follows the same improv rule of "Yes-And" whereby for every place the skit goes, you're supposed to accept it and ask what's next. This makes it extremely fantastical, but also very creative. The skit then becomes like a giant what-if machine, letting your mind speculate on a tremendous number of possibilities for whatever is on your mind.

So your dreams become a place where you can see your social conflicts resolved or you can find the missing piece for your dissertation. And while your memory of the entire skit is erased as you wake up, you still retain a lingering sense of epiphany.

So consider each of the 50 dreams we have a night like 50 creative workshops, whereby your issues are hashed out. This is why we feel a renewed sense of understanding when tackling our problems after a good night's sleep. But only if we choose to begin the day anew.

If we exhibit superhuman talents in our dreams, do lions dream of reading poetry, only to wake up with a roar, bereft of fantasy?

We often have dreams where we have a command and insight that is greater than we have in the waking world. You may, for example, have a dream where you discover the perfect story for the next Great American Novel. You can see all the characters, themes, and plot lines intersect into a joyous epiphany of literary wonderment. Then when you wake up, and try to write it all down, it comes out as nonsensical spaghetti. It's truly a humbling moment.

Since we figured out that animals dream, do they have similar moments of epiphany? Does the female lion dream of having a cup of tea and chatting with the father of her children, explaining in detail why she had to kick him out of the den? Does she imagine walking on her hind legs, attending a soirée with her friends? Instead, she wakes up, in a bad mood, and swipes someone in the face.

Maybe waking up is the quantum observation that chooses a logically consistent dream world to stand in for reality

The infinite multiverse theory has implications for dreams. Perhaps dreams are samples of those infinite permutations of alternative universes, and when we wake up, that's just the so-called "observation" that forces a choice of a world that is logically consistent, i.e. the version of Earth where objects obey gravity. In other words, dreams could be tentative realities, and choosing to wake up is when we decide we can inhabit them.

The purpose of blogging is the same as dream journaling: By writing down our days, we get better at remembering we have them

We have fifty-some dreams per night, but as we wake up, little scrubbers in our brain erase our memories of them. Some of these dreams are vivid dreams, where you can see everything in HD, like little goosebumps. And some of these dreams are lucid dreams, where you can dictate your wildest fantasies. We live this rich, imaginative life every time we sleep, and yet most of it is inaccessible to us because we forget.

Dream journaling fights back at this process, and the more I do it, the more my dream world becomes a part of my waking world. The stories, images, and characters linger after I wake up, and I use them to instruct my creativity and ideas. I almost feel a little boost of superhuman enhancement, like I'm experiencing more (interesting) hours per day than the average human.

Blogging has the same effect as dream journaling. I have fifty-some ideas throughout the day, but if I don't blog or speak about them, I forget them. I even forget that I had them in the first place, similar to dream-forgettery. It gets to the point where I don't think I have any ideas to speak of unless I keep a journal. And then I talk to someone, or I write something down, and it's like a flashlight goes off in a cave, and all these batty ideas come flying out the portico.

We have as much information as to whether or not to kill people in our dreams as we do in real life

Should you kill bad guys in your dreams? Sure, why not? They're not alive, right? Well, you only have two bases for this belief. One is that in your dreams, you remember having woken up before from a similar loopy world. You remember being in a place where there is no evidence of a dream world anywhere. And so you think to yourself, "I'll snap out of this, and none of it will exist anymore. Therefore, it's not real." So, you're 100% confident you can take down muggers or whoever you want with no regret. After all, there will be no material consequences in your waking world.

The second basis is that your dream world is fantastical and subject to your imagination, further proof it's not real. But let's deconstruct that. It's fantastical relative to our waking world, but why should that lead us to favor the waking world more? Isn't a world that is rigidly governed by rules, like the laws of physics, more insane than one without. In fact, it drives physicists to insane deductions to try to make it all unify and fit together. It drives us religiously insane because we look around and think, "Wow, look at this order and perfection, its got to have been designed by some infinite genius." And then we kill each other over who is more right about the true nature of this genius when really we're masking our own insecurities about these conclusions.

We have more meta-memories than actual memories, sacrificing accuracy for speed, reality for witness-stand recall

I once had two long dreams about imaginary Hitchcock films. Both were packed with details and authentic Hitchcock plot twists, and yet I can barely recall their stories. All I remember is that the first film had Cary Grant and a large silvery gun, shaped like an old box camera that snapped together. The second film had Natalie Wood, who witnesses a murder while she is young, but cannot convince anybody around her. It gets to the point where she eventually believes she must have misremembered the murder, until later in life, she re-discovers real evidence of the murder. But in classic Hitchcock horror, she is still powerless to convince anybody.

These two dreams were so vivid that I immediately had dreams about them afterward. I remember reminiscing and embellishing the films in a sort of dreamworld "post-production." So in addition to having an intense memory of the movies themselves, I also have intense memories of reminiscing about the movies. When I woke up, I was so pleased with having seen and enjoyed two great Hitchcock films, that it took me a while to unravel the layers of remembrance to realize that those films were not real.

Have you ever remembered remembering something, but couldn't actually remember the thing itself? I often imagine that's how it feels like on the witness stand, where your recollection of the scene of the crime is weak, but you feel bolstered by your secondary recollection of your recollection. You may have a faint memory of being at the crime scene itself, but you vividly remember sitting uneasy on your sofa back at your apartment, replaying the events of the crime scene over and over again in your head.

This reminds me about how databases and Google work. Google caches all these websites and then constructs an index for looking up search terms. But oftentimes, Google's cache expires or the website drifts, and all that is left is the index as proof that those website caches were once real.