A few memorable dreams.
On rare occasions I have prophetic dreams. That sounds a little more heavyweight than intended. Let’s say that, just now and then, I dream of the future.
Such dreams share one thing in common; I have no problem remembering them. All my other dreams are very quickly consigned to my forgetory when I awake, even if I try to recall them. But future dreams stick like jam from a carelessly spreading knife.
The best illustration of this is the recurring dream I had in childhood. Not only is it starkly vivid in my mind, I am still, over sixty years later, unpacking its meaning.
Its story is very simple. I become aware of an unidentified horror that is out to get me. I cannot see it, most probably because I won’t turn to look at it, but also because I know that it cannot be seen. All that I am aware of is the need to run from it.
So I start running but now I find that my legs are behaving as though I’m knee-deep in syrup. It is worse than trying to run in water. All my effort becomes concentrated in trying to run faster but without success. And the terror gets closer and closer until…
Yes, I wake up. A classic child’s nightmare, I’m sure you’d say. But its importance lies in its repetition. It almost defines my sleeping life before the age of about ten and it demands interpretation. What was I so unconsciously afraid of at that age?
And that, of course, is the question that I still attempt to answer. Was it adult life hanging over me that overwhelmed to such an extent? Or was it death that gave the first intimations of its inevitability? There are other possibilities but these are more complex and associated with my later experience of conversion to Christianity. I wouldn’t want to bore you with all that.
But this does point out another aspect of future dreams; they are retrospectively understandable. This brings them more into line with Biblical prophecy as well. Prophecy is confirmed by its playing out in reality, after all.
Which gives me the excuse I need to avoid the dream from my late teenage years that is still too scary for me to talk of here. Instead, I’ll write of flying.
It seems that plenty of people dream of flying but not me. I’ve had only two flying dreams, one as a teenager, the other about thirty years ago (when I was in my early forties, in other words). They don’t seem to be connected, however.
The first dream was entirely concerned with the mechanics of flying. It was situated outside the house my family was living in at the time and there was room for a long run-up to get aloft before a line of pine trees formed a barrier that must be overcome if the flight was to be successful. Well, I ran as fast as I could, pumping my arms like mad. and gradually lifted off the ground. The pines were getting closer, however, and there were a few suspenseful seconds in which it was doubtful that I’d make it. In the event, my feet scraped the tops of the trees and I flew.
That was the end of the dream, without all the expected benefits of such an accomplishment, swooping over fields and houses, zooming down to surprise neighbours. No, this dream was concerned about how flying could be achieved; I was not allowed to sample the delights of success.
The second dream was entirely different. There was no interest in how the deed was done and no build up to the event. I was flying at considerable height over the ocean without effort or concentration on the mechanics of how it was achieved. It is possible that I had my arms outstretched but I took so little notice that I cannot be sure. The ocean is what held my attention.
And then a coastline appeared at the horizon. This became more distinct, so fast was I flying, and then I could see that I was approaching a city with a very distinctive skyline. Tall buildings raised their profiles to the sky and my logical mind came to the obvious conclusion: New York City.
The dream ended there. Its meaning seemed obvious, if unlikely. I took it in the most extensive form, that I was going to visit America at some time. The thought of going to the States had never entered my head before so this seemed an improbable conclusion. I had no reason to do so and dismissed the dream as a wild fantasy.
Dismissing dreams does not make the obstinate ones go away, however. The memory remained until, twenty years later, I had a reason and departed for America. I was wrong about only one thing - my hasty conclusion that the skyline belonged to New York. Boston has nearly as many skyscrapers after all.
There we have a few examples of future dreams. They can be explained in many other ways, no doubt, but the memorability and vividness of these and a few others, together with their tendency to come true, does seem to indicate a connection, even if unconscious, with future events. As Hamlet is alleged to have said to a friend of his:
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
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