dream a little dream

Posted: August 3, 2021 in Observations and Commentary, Traskland
Tags: , ,

As a child I had a troubling, recurring dream. I was probably 4 the first time I dreamt it and it would regularly return until I was 8 or 9. I hesitate calling it a nightmare since it never reached the point where I felt helpless and doomed. I would end the threat before it got that far, but I am jumping ahead.

In the dream it was the middle of the night. The drawn curtains blocked out the street lights. I was alone on the floor lying on my stomach watching television. My arms were propped up and my head rested in my hands. The television was in my father’s living room. It was a large, very old black and white Zenith, the kind that took a moment to warm up when first turned on. A small dot would appear in the center of the screen and gradually grow larger until the full picture appeared. When it was turned off, the dot shrunk before fully disappearing. Aside from the set’s glow, the room was completely dark.

This was in the days when a local station aired campy horror films every Saturday night. The program was called Chiller Theatre and featured movies like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and The Giant Claw. I suspect this is why I was watching a generic monster movie in the dream. At some point the monster turned to the camera, looked directly at me and said, “I see you.” It extended its gnarly hand until it broke through the screen. I didn’t move and I didn’t try to escape. As it was about to grab me, I reached over and calmly turned off the television. The hand instantly evaporated, the picture shrunk into its diminishing dot, and danger was averted.

Even as a small child the dream never scared me. Oh sure, I would wake up unnerved. More than once the first thing I did the following morning was dash into the living room and make sure the television was off and the screen intact. Nothing was ever out of order. That didn’t stop me from checking the television each time the dream circled back. This continued for several years until whatever triggered the dream was trapped behind a locked door in my subconscious.

I’m sure there are logical, valid reasons the dream first emerged and why it kept coming back. While many aspects of it might fascinate a therapist, the part I find most interesting is that I stopped the threat while still in the dream. I know very little about the meanings behind dreams, but I have read that people often jolt awake during moments of great peril. They jettison out before reaching a bad climax. Yet I didn’t do that, not even at a young age. It’s not that I was (or am) fearless. I found comfort knowing I had the power to control external threats, something which I suppose is universal. This realization happened to manifest itself in an early dream. Of course, I never thought of it that way as a kid.

I look at what’s happening in the world today and, unlike in my childhood dream, my apprehension grows. I realize all eras have their unique challenges which are often daunting and overwhelming. In this way our times are no different. Still, it does not offer much relief. Some days I wish the forces swirling around us were simply another dream, one in which I could switch off with the turn of a knob and watch fade into a small dot before vanishing forever. Is this unrealistic? Absolutely, like most fantasies. But the truth is even if it were a dream, even if it were so easy to dismiss, it could return at any time, unannounced and menacing.

  1. rangewriter says:

    I too, keep thinking that every era has its drama and our current mess will look like small potatoes to future generations. But I have trouble believing that. My ace in the hole is that I’m old and won’t be around to see the long term after-effects of what is happening around the world today.

    Speaking of childhood recurring dreams, I’ve never confessed this to a soul, but during about the same ages as your recurring dream I also had one. But I was somehow mixed up with a sausage-ring-looking group of turds in a toilet bowl and knew the flush was coming any minute and I was freaked by the idea of disappearing down the drain with the turds. Now wouldn’t a psychologist have a party with that one?!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lee Erman says:

    Wonderfully vivid way to contextualize a description of many of our feelings about today. And, as always, elegantly graceful writing. Bravo, John.

    Liked by 1 person

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