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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: Do you remember your dreams, are you often able to analyze them, and do they help you understand yourself?

As a followup to last weekend’s Question of the Weekend about sleep:

I remember my dreams frequently, and often no matter how weird they are, they usually do make some sort of sense in light of what’s going on in my life. I still vividly remember years later that just as I was about to finish writing my first screenplay, Bronx Cheer, which felt like a huge accomplishment to me, I dreamt that I was pregnant and about to give birth. The metaphoric connections seem obvious.

Just recently, I had a truly disturbing dream in which I was an actor in a play — and just as I’ve never actually been pregnant, I’ve never been on stage, either — and the company was about to begin our first performance of whatever this play was. We were in an outdoor, theater-in-the-park situation, not on a stage, and here we were, all in our costumes and taking our places not in front of but among a gathered audience, and the lights were going down. And though I appeared calm and relaxed and ready on the outside, on the inside I was panicking — absolutely panicking — because I did not know my lines. I hadn’t even read the play and had no idea at all what it was about. I was going to have to fake my way through this, and I didn’t know how I could possibly do that.

And then I woke up, of course, just as I would have found out how — or whether — I managed to pull it off.
What this was a reaction to seemed immediately obvious to me. In April, I cut myself loose from my one major freelance client, a small book publisher, that was not related to writing about pop culture or reviewing movies. It was a client that sucked up a lot of my time and brain power for very little financial reward — it wasn’t one of those clients for whom I could do a job and then live on the fee from it for months. (I’ve had writing and editing clients like that, though not in many years.) I was basically treading water, with no chance of things changing for the better. And when I looked at what was happening online — not just on the Web but with ebooks and other stuff — I figured that this was the time to take a big leap and just devote myself entirely to building up traffic at FlickFilosopher.com and trying out a few other things. I thought the chances were good that I’d be able to make up the small income from that client via the work I love most and would most love to be doing all the time.

But I don’t know that that plan is going to work — it was wildly audacious to even take that leap with only a very thin safety net — and I’m honestly a bit terrified that it won’t. How I felt in that dream is very much how I’d been feeling on a subconscious level. And now that it’s out on the surface… well, I’m still a bit terrified, but at least I can put a finger on the nameless stress I’d been experiencing.

Do you remember your dreams, are you often able to analyze them, and do they help you understand yourself?

Just to be clear, I don’t believe that dreams are prophetic or that there’s anything supernatural about them. I do believe that dreaming might be akin to rebuilding your desktop — as we used to have to do with Macs in older OSes as a way to keep them running optimally — or optimizing a hard drive, and so dreams can toss up a lot of images and thoughts and such that are in your head at any given moment. And so that if we can remember and analyze our dreams, they could possibly give us some insight into ourselves.

What do you think? And how do you react to your dreams?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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