I’m not a big dream person. Most nights I don’t remember my dreams. I’ve read that means I wake up during the wrong sleep cycle for remembering dreams. I do wake up at about the same time every morning so that could be true but it’s not a topic I’ve delved into much. And like a lot of people I usually don’t like to hear about other people’s dreams. Though they may be interesting to the dreamer they are often boring to the listener. I think this mostly has to do with story telling.

When telling someone a story or anecdote structure is very important. A story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end and the listener has to recognize that the story is progressing as you tell it. Otherwise “Get to the point” will be heard a lot if anyone even bothers to keep listening. We all know bad storytellers who bore us with their pointless ramblings. Dreams rarely have storytelling structure. They are not really stories in the same sense that we usually mean. Dreams often have no linear beginning, middle, and end. Things change on their own and reset buttons are hit in the middle of the action. In a dream it’s usually tough to follow the thread of it all.

When I dream I often have some control over what I dream. Not total lucid dreaming where I can do whatever I want. It’s more like I’m the director of a movie and I’m making creative choices. Part of last night’s dream was that I was riding in a car with other people and I couldn’t continue on with them so I had the car pull over and I got out. It was nighttime in the pouring rain on a suburban street that I didn’t even recognize. As my dream self was standing there not knowing what to do next my dream director self said, “This is stupid. No one would ever do that” and the dream reset itself.

Or at least I think the dream reset itself. That’s another problem with telling the story of a dream. You are not only relying on memory but memory from when you’re asleep. People often remember new aspects of the dream as they are telling the story of it. Then they have to backtrack to make it all fit. That’s a storytelling technique that’s sure to frustrate the listener. It’s frustrating when people do that when telling a real life story and it happens even more often when telling dream stories.

Due to my dream directors influence the story I was in shifted from that dark and rainy street to me riding my bicycle home on a sunny afternoon after having left the car. At least I think it was the same car. There were at least three drivers during the car sequence and once it was even a yellow cab. Making any kind of linear story out of the memory of a constantly changing dream sure is a challenge.

I’ve noticed over the years that I’ve left most of the old dream archetypes behind. I haven’t dreamt about being naked in public, falling, not getting an assignment done, flying, and whatever other dreams we have in common in a long time. But I have developed some of my own dream types. I guess me being the director of the dream and saying “This isn’t working for me” would count as a dream type and the second from this dream would be getting lost.

As I was an my dream bike making my way home my sunny day turned into one filled with snow and ice. As with all my “Getting lost” dreams familiar territory turned into unfamiliar territory and I no longer knew where I was going. For some reason my “Getting lost” dreams are often paired with a third dream type. An “Inability to stay awake” theme. As I was riding my bike in the cold and snow and trying to get home my eyes were closing. I was suddenly tired and could not stay awake.

This portion of the dream is always accompanied by a cheesy special effect. It’s the one we’ve seen in movies where someone is trying to stay awake while driving or some such and suddenly the camera sees his eyelids closing as if from the inside of his eyes. The screen goes black as the eyes close and we see a picture again as the eyes open. It’s a really annoying effect in the movies and also in my dreams. I don’t know what it means when I’m fighting to stay awake in a dream so I can get something done but it’s usually one of the least pleasant aspects of a dream. Even in a dream when I’m tired I just like to go to sleep.

Often the thread of the dream narrative ends with the “Inability to stay awake” part. What can come next if I can’t stay awake in my own dream? It ties in with the whole “Getting lost” dream and brings things to a screeching halt because if I can’t stay awake I can’t get un-lost. That’s what happened last night because at this point the dream shifted to a completely different one. This is another thing that makes listening to dream stories so boring. Though they share some common elements the next part of the dream has nothing to do with the first part. It can’t really be tied in coherently.

The last part is a typical “Helplessness” dream. Suddenly it was not me on the bike but a friend who was out on a bike the night before during a storm and some friends and I were out looking for him. Of course everything stopped me from being able to look for him. From having to pull over and have brunch to people arguing over where to sit in the car. And there was a constantly changing cast of characters. There was no narrative to speak of except not being able to even look for what I wanted to find. And the lack of narrative makes it impossible to tie into the narrative driven first part of the dream. That’s what makes the telling of it so tough.

So there you have it. Not the telling of a dream but the telling of the telling of a dream. One more layer of observation to try to make things into a coherent narrative. I think that’s what makes dream interpretation more interesting than the dreams themselves. Not that I’ve ever been into dream interpretation but as I think about it now it takes the incoherent unconnected aspects of a dream and tries to make them into a narrative that a person can connect to. And we all want to connect.