I was always a dreamy child, my mind constantly engaged elsewhere in some make-believe world of my own. I must have missed half whatever the teacher was saying, which explains a great deal, and usually resulted in a telling-off. I had a naïve faith in the power of dreams, believing that when I woke up I would no longer be this small, plump, red-haired girl with freckles and glasses, but the more glamorous person who lived inside my head. She always had something witty to say, was good at maths, and had boys queuing to take her out. Hey, it was my dream. I confess to this day I can easily switch off from reality and slip into that world of make-believe, and it is no bad thing. Real life can be tough, and we all need some fantasy world into which to escape. There is something rather wonderful about being alone with ones own thoughts and dreams, where we can play the hero or beautiful heroine, be involved in a romance that is sure to have a happy ending, or an adventure with no risk involved.
Studies have shown that dreaming is actually good for us. It helps us to relax and sleep well, so that we wake up refreshed. Freud claimed that dreams were an expression of our secret desires, allowing us to view the world, and ourselves, in a more positive light. He also said that you can’t make anything up in a dream, and here I beg to differ. For I love to make up my own dreams. Whatever has frustrated me during the day I like to resolve at night in my dreams. My fantasy world is a marvellous outlet for all that pent-up fury against the bank, tax inspector, or the rude person who barged in with her shopping trolley. In my alternative universe I can win the argument I couldn’t hope to win in the real world.
Dreams rebuild our dented egos, replenish our own self-worth. I believe that true dreams, those that we have when we are asleep, can actually solve problems. Not just for a writer working on a knotty plot issue, but real life problems that our conscious mind, inhibited by worries, logic, work, family or peer pressure, can miss. The process of dreaming strips all those blockages away and gets right to the nub of the matter. Then we can wake up having found a peaceful resolution. Bliss! We can even discover, through our dreams, the source of our depression and worries, so that we can then deal with them in a rational way. Dreams also allow us to recall memories that have quite disappeared from our conscious mind, and what a joy that can be. So, it seems that all those tellings-off I got from my teacher for dreaming were really entirely uncalled for. I was actually resolving my life’s problems, building my self-esteem, quietly growing as a person, even if I remained short, plump and red-haired with freckles and specs.
Thanks for such a lovely post, Freda. I had a teacher who told me I’d never get anywhere daydreaming. Happily, she was wrong …