I seem to dream the most in the morning, after the sun comes up. At least, those always seem to be the times when I find myself waking from a twisted surreal universe that only seems to exist for the purposes of my abject torment. Today, I awoke from a transportation dream, as I often do. Given what I do immediately after waking each day, there’s no big secret to what *that* aspect of the dream means. And yes, there’s probably a new car for my therapist in there somewhere, but this isn’t about that.
In my dreams, everyone hates me – not all of my dreams, mind you, just enough to inspire me to write about it. This dream involved being on a crowded train. Ironically, the occupants of the train have never bothered me in all the times I’ve had crowded transportation dreams. I think this is because I spent a lot of time on the Metro in DC, where the lives of the passengers are intimately intertwined for the duration of their carriage. It’s impossible not to feel some level of love for these strange people when their lives are thrust into yours by random chance. They are just as bold, adventurous, and vulnerable as you are, hurtling at high speed along tracks whose maintenance budgets are subject to the whim of the body politic. These people are, in large part, just like you. That makes it easy to forgive their sometimes annoying idiosyncrasies.
As the train approached a bridge, I felt the urgent concern of the conductor, who believed the bridge to be in imminent danger of terrorist attack by rocket-propelled grenade. He apparently called an audible and had the train cars disconnected and loaded into boats. I remember feeling really impressed they were able to get my train car on a boat so quickly. Dream time can be non-linear, though, so it’s anyone’s guess what that means.
After the train cars were loaded on boats, I experienced what I’ve come to refer to as virtual trauma. As the boats were floating across the river, it became apparent that the train cars were making them top-heavy. The first thing a top-heavy boat wants to do is flip over. That’s just what was happening. I watched in horror as the other train cars pivoted around the boats like fat sausages under the watchful eye of a master grillsmith, no doubt drowning the passengers. My boat somehow stayed upright. I remember looking up at the perfectly in tact bridge we could have easily crossed safely and quickly, avoiding the calamity played out before me. I call it virtual trauma because it has many of the same impacts on those who experience it. It leaves me feeling distracted and troubled all day. I sometimes find it difficult to free my mind of the ghastly memory of something I rationally believe happened only in a dream. Still, I can’t shake it off.
The Chinese believe each organ in the body is associated with a time of day. Not coincidentally, the time period when I normally wake up (8:30-10:00am, depending on the day’s responsibilities and the previous night’s debauchery) is associated with the large intestine. Chinese philosophy recommends waking before this time of day. I have come to value the wisdom in Eastern medicine, mostly from personal experience. Days when I wake up earlier than 9am always seem to be days where I’m productive and happy. It’s easier to be productive when I’m not haunted by the traumatic events of my dreams. If I could find a way to achieve a balance where I naturally wake around 8am, that would be great. That is challenging, given my bedroom window looks out over the most crowded bar in the area. In order to cut out the party noise, I would need to shut the window. If I do that, the room heats up quickly. I’d rather not turn on the air conditioning if I can avoid it. So, mostly I put up with the sounds of the night in exchange for troubling dreams.
The one thing I want less than troubling dreams is the ball-and-chain of an alarm clock.