My dreams are so bizarre that if they were ever analyzed, there’s a good chance I’d be institutionalized or at least I’d get requests to have my brain donated posthumously to medical science.
I don’t know where they come from or how my labyrinthine brain strings together people and places not only from times gone by and from present-day but also people and places that I’ve never seen before. And yet in my dreams they are real and important and holy cow why did she show up in that castle-turned-cruise ship with the elephant on the lido deck who’s being trained by my high school biology teacher?!
All this, mind you, without the influence of mind-altering drugs or copious amounts of alcohol, which is seriously not comforting. It would be so nice if I could just blame it on them instead of resting in the knowledge that, no, this was entirely my own brain’s doing. no chemical help whatsoever. No creepy slasher flicks right before bed. No black ops prolonged torture session that prompted the mind to go haywire. Just. My. Brain. Doin’. Its. Thang.
One of the more legendary dreams of late was where my father-in-law saw that a seven-foot-tall British celebrity (whom my mind had invented!) was sidling up to my mother-in-law … under a trampoline … with a dozen or more other folks under there. My father-in-law had stepped away from the group for a moment and had come back to see the celebrity getting closer and closer to my mother-in-law. He didn’t like that very much, and went charging up to the celebrity, saying, “You want a piece o’me, Tiger? Huh? You want a piece of this?” He then proceeded to beat the ever-loving’ daylights out of the British guy while the trampoline spontaneously disappeared and I turned to look at Brian to see if he had seen it all, but he was talking to the kids in our ‘house,’ which in this dream was really a natural history museum. I don’t even like natural history museums.
I woke up laughing and told Brian and the littles over breakfast. We have laughed about “You want a piece o’ me, Tiger?!” ever since.
The sum total of it all is that you might never want to be in my dreams, but you can be sure that if you are, it’s gonna be gooooooooood, but which I mean interesting, intriguing, unpredictable, and odd.
Funny when it’s dreams. Not so funny when our wide-awake brains distort reality. Serious consequences, too. A child comes under the (mistaken) belief that one of his siblings is the ‘favorite’ child, and through that leans receives every correction from his parents as a message of “if you were as good as my favorite child always is, then you wouldn’t have to be corrected … and I would love you more.” The parents may never have communicated any of that, and yet if that child’s brain crafts reality in such a way, there is usually wreckage there that has the potential to last for years.
I remember being in a restaurant once during my senior year of college, and a bunch of us where standing together chatting. Some folks we didn’t know walked up to the same place we were, and after a while we all started talking together. A few minutes into our conversations, this guy and I started laughing about something that had just happened. We weren’t flirting, we weren’t trying to impress each other; we were just two people laughing over something.
In an instant, I felt a whack up the side of my head that almost caused my head to slam into the brass bar that served as the handrail where we were standing. The force of the blow astonished me, but no more so than the realization that I had just had my head slammed for no discernible reason. Dazed, I turned my head as fast as I could, which at that moment wasn’t all that fast, and saw a woman – a very angry woman – in my face telling me that I should leave her boyfriend alone and shouldn’t be talking to him or laughing with him or looking at him. My friends stood with their mouths open, staring at this woman who had just assaulted me, and I looked at her and just said, “Ma’am, we weren’t flirting; we were just standing here.” She was about to go at me again when her boyfriend escorted her away with a look at me that said, “This isn’t the first time she’s done this. Oh, you have no idea.”
My friends and one of the restaurant workers asked if I wanted to press charges against her, but I shook that off and just gathered in closer with my friends. We left soon after, grateful that my head hadn’t slammed into that rail and that that woman hadn’t burst my eardrum when she whacked my head.
Her reality that night didn’t match actual reality. She allowed her brain to concoct a crazy notion and then followed that lunacy with violence. Nothing good was going to come of that. Wherever that woman is all these years later, I hope she’s evened out and has a reality that matches life’s a little better; more likely is that she’s in jail somewhere for assault. (Distorted reality, after all, is a hard brain pattern to break when it has nothing to do with mental illness; that’s an entirely different discussion.)
Stories like these (where mental illness is not at play with the warping of reality) are not uncommon; in fact they have been around since the dawning of time. Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul emphasizes that faith in Christ is supposed to include the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2, among other places), not just our hearts and our bodies. The psalmist repeats that imagery. And much of Jesus’s teachings echo the same.
Perhaps there’s something to it, then. At least considerably more so than the substance of most of my dreams.