I dream in metaphors. Challenges become mountains. Obstacles are floods, brick walls and locked doors. Sometimes I wake and can’t initially decipher a dream’s meaning. Once 16 years ago when I was eight months pregnant, I dreamed of a whale washed up on the beach, struggling to move. I shared it with Rich and he laughed, its message so obvious in the retelling.
What I notice about my dreams is that most nights, they center in on what’s most important to me. I don’t assume my dreams are accurate or predictive, but they show me my deepest fears, and remind me of my highest priorities. All the supposed stress of my daily life — everything I have distracted myself with and think is essential throughout the day — disappears, and I dream about what really matters. Often pushed under the rug during the day, these life priorities of family and survival and love become the focus of my attention while I sleep.
Unable to hide behind daytime distractions, I cower behind thinly veiled metaphors. I sit in a stationary car as joyriders spin in 360s around me, until one crashes into me head on. I push hospital beds through beautiful green fields that on closer examination are littered with shards of glass. I crawl through tunnels that get narrower and narrower as I try to find an exit. I search back alleys and twisted streets anxiously for the people I love.
My dreams remind me of what really matters, and I’m grateful for that. But I long for the nights when the sky is blue and the fields are green / roads are clear and nothing is lurking around the corner.