Updated: Oct 12, 2022
My dreams are very strange.
They are always made up of several parts: different stories happening in chronological order, one after the other. Only very rarely is one part of the dream connected to the following one; they are almost always separate stories within the same dream.
When you talk to people you realise that all dreams are strange. There are probably no "normal" dreams. The act of dreaming itself is a magical event, almost like a supernatural ability. Dreams are just fascinating…
Freud believed that dreams are the fulfilment of a wish. He went to great lengths to demonstrate this in his masterpiece The Interpretation of Dreams, analysing even distressful dreams that in no way resembled the idea of a wish-fulfilment. Many did not agree with some of his theories, and as time marched on new views took the lead.
However much people agreed or disagreed with him, it is undeniable that Freud opened the way for a closer look at the phenomenon of dreaming. He made it more accessible, and at the same time elevated it to a higher degree of importance—permeating it with a literary aura, suggesting that the capacity for dreaming is an almost artistic ability.
If that were true, I don’t know where my ability for dreaming would stand… I sometimes dream demons hunting me, and at other times I dream of being in the sky, high up above the clouds, moving towards a divine world…
But I also dream about real life. I am always the centre of my dreams, of course. Sometimes people I know are there with me; they do things with or against me, and sometimes they die. I never die. Sometimes there are people I don’t know at all, who strongly resemble some of the people I know.
I do not always dream though. I may go without dreaming for long periods of time. I realise that my dreaming is of course connected to a more intense mental activity. When thoughts and feelings cave in my mind and body for longer than usual, then they inevitably come out in some strange way in my dreams.
To me, dreaming has almost always meant the expression of what I tend to suppress when I am awake. My fears, my ambitions, my wishes. Whatever I feel inside and cannot bring to expression during the day, comes out distorted and greatly emphasised at night.
Although I do not enjoy when the ending of a film sums up its complicated plot with the easy explanation "it was all a dream," films that involve dreaming are definitely amongst my favourites. Donnie Darko, Vanilla Sky, Mulholland Drive…
These films deeply shaped my views and my inner experience growing up. They shaped a way of thinking, and a way of feeling, within me. I have always believed that—apart from the education that my parents gave me, and the lessons that both institutions and the outside world had for me—I am very much a product of the art I consumed: especially of the films I watched.
Films have the ability to influence our thought and our behaviour more than anything else, perhaps. Fiction becomes reality with films, because what we see on the big screen really seems possible and attainable. And so we start dressing and acting like our favourite characters, hoping to be just like them one day…
I always loved films that could make me dream. I loved films that would take me as far away as possible from reality, offering me a magical world—the same world that my mind envisions, although in a more complex way, when I am asleep.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we dream: because we need to escape reality somehow. When we feel over-constrained in our body, our imagination can always take us somewhere else. This is, without a doubt, one of man’s most incredible abilities.
Maybe it is a natural phenomenon then, that of dreaming. A way to release all the stress and frustration. It may be this, a spontaneous human act; or it may be several factors all combined together that make us dream.
Whatever the reason, it seems to me that when we are dreaming our mind is free of all constraints: of all the psychological and emotional chains that keep our imagination and our thinking somewhat crippled and locked up.
I am sometimes fascinated by my own dreaming ability. The way my mind puts together all those details from real life—the events and thoughts of the previous days sometimes combined with remote childhood experiences, as Freud demonstrated—all those notions I read somewhere in a book or watched sometime in some moving picture: the way it can link what you already know with what you are able to imagine.
Dreams may be strange, but to me they are an almost divine intervention, the proof that our human existence is not just in what we see; that there is a true spiritual, magical essence that escapes any logical understanding. This irrational quality is the one I have always chased, and it is the reason why I just love dreaming…
The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Madiha Foundation.