Like so many people, there are periods when the dreams I have at night are so vivid they almost make my head spin when I wake up in the morning. Some of the dreams are clear and direct. You can tell the brain is processing some life event or challenge in abstract fashion.
Others evidence the fact that the mind is shedding stress or trying to untie the knots of existence. Dreams can be so vexing they drive people insane. The bible shares an interesting incident in which the prophet Daniel is called to interpret the dream of a king named Nebuchadnezzar whose dreams were keeping him awake at night. The king fears their meaning and hires all kinds of seers to figure them out. But no one was up to the task until Daniel arrived.
36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
Whoa! The king was so relieved to find out what the dream meant that he placed Daniel in a position of authority. The story puts a whole twist on the notion of “when dreams come true.” Sometimes it means more to know how the mind works even when if it does not necessarily bring good news.
I once had a dream in which I was sitting out my senior season in cross country. I’d watch practices from the upper campus while my former running teammates ran their hearts out below. In the dream there was some kind of injury or other conditions keeping me back. But that was never specific. I just felt this angst of not running. And it felt like I was letting them all down. At the same time, there was a weird relief. I know, strange.
I’ve always been a person who wants to please others. Call it the Middle Child syndrome. At the point in life when I had that dream, I was likely in some position with family or work where I felt like I wasn’t meeting the self-imposed obligations rattling around my brain. That dream was my way of working through the nighttime angst.
It’s proof that these things we do, the running, riding and swimming, have deeper significance and literally do affect the way our minds work. Sometimes it’s clear and at other times, so abstract we wonder why we dream such things at all.
Yet it’s the waking dreams we have that rest at the front of conscious minds. We dream of success. Dream of love. Dream of financial security. Dream of having that book published. Dream of getting that promotion. We dream and dream on.
In the end, it’s the action we apply to our dreams that counts. In that moment when we make our waking dreams come true, there is a satisfaction that surpasses all others. If we apply a little gratitude at the same time, life itself is richer and more contemplative.
The ultimate dream in life is to be thankful for the ability to do your best, whatever that means. And working with others to make that happen. Have you any dreams you’d like to share?
How weird is this? As I sit finishing this blog at Graham’s 318 Coffee Shop, the famous song “Dream a Little Dream for Me” is playing.