I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dream a little dream with me

A beautiful purple sunset
I found this lovely picture while I was perusing Earthsky News. Graham Telford captured this sunset while he was fishing at Stainforth, a village in the United Kingdom. I subscribed to the website awhile back and enjoy seeing what's happening in the sky, and every day they have a different image to delight their readers. Between this blog and Astronomy Picture of the Day, I start every morning with a look at something that gives me perspective beyond my own little corner of the world.

Thank you to everyone who left such thoughtful comments on this blog last week. I was a little bit startled by the wonderful advice I received, since I can never predict what will come out of my fingers when I sit down and begin, as I am right now. And to have struck a chord that resonated with so many of you that caused you to open up your hearts, well I am just grateful to have found this connection with you. I am not likely to repeat the endeavor today, because now I'll be trying too hard, and that will spoil it. They come when they come, and I have to be content with that.

Tomorrow I have the pre-op appointment with the doctor who will be performing the cataract surgery on my first eye, the "bad" one that is already missing vision. Although I've researched how the surgery affects AMD (age-related macular degeneration), I know that it's unpredictable, but in most cases the effect of allowing more light into the eye helps, at least for awhile. AMD is progressive, and the sight that I've lost will not be returned. I wonder, though, if it will make the vision loss more pronounced or not. Whatever, I'll be glad when the surgery is behind me. Then I will know in no uncertain terms.

Last night I had very vivid dreams, and I woke at one point realizing that I had raised my hand to answer a question that someone in the dream had asked. It was enough to wake me from the dream, to realize that I'd actually moved a part of my body in response to a dream sequence. I've never been a sleepwalker, but I figure that must be how it works: you are fast asleep and acting out the dream. Sometimes I have awakened and realized that I was so involved in a dream that it felt incredibly real. It reminds me of a time when I had (in my dream) been laughing with my mother, one of those belly laughs that you can't help but respond to, and I laughed hard enough to wake myself up. The feeling I had from that dream stayed with me throughout the day. I found this fascinating information about sleepwalking and dreaming after a quick search:
As far as we can tell, sleepwalking occurs because two parts of the brain are "awake" at once. The first is the part that is meant to be percolating while people are asleep. It's not the part that vividly dreams. Sleepwalkers don't walk during REM sleep, but about half an hour before they enter REM sleep. The second part of the brain kept awake is the motor cortex. 
It's from a longer article called "How Can Dreams Control Your Body?" and is an interesting read. One of the reasons that it takes me so long to write these Sunday morning posts is that I keep getting sidetracked into articles like that one. At any rate, vivid dreams do seem to come to me more often when I've got something on my mind, like the upcoming surgery. Maybe it's a way I use to come to terms with it. I found a quote from Gloria Steinem that says "Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." I like that idea: that I am in the process of planning for a really good outcome. The strange thing for me about dreams, though, is their total unpredictability and inability to manage them.

That reminds me that years ago I got a book about Lucid Dreaming, which gives the dreamer some tools to use in order to direct one's dreams. I got about halfway through the book and, after trying some of the methods to direct my dreams, I lost interest. It didn't seem to work for me, although I think there are plenty of people who can make use of lucid dreaming, I'm not one of them.  For one thing, I sort of enjoy drifting off to sleep and allowing the dreams to come to me, not actually go looking for them. I don't always remember my dreams, but often enough to look forward to them. I rarely have unpleasant ones.

Although it's been years now since I've made a skydive, the experience is so ingrained in me that I often still dream about it. I suppose that having accumulated the equivalent of more than two days in freefall might explain why it actually feels comfortable to think of being there again. Sometimes I dream of flying, which is a similar feeling to freefall of being weightless and free to navigate the skies. Of course, in freefall you are also flying in a vertical perspective. Those wing suit fliers actually go farther horizontally than they do vertically. Eventually, though, they have to land, and hopefully they've got some sort of parachute over your head when they do.

I loved my pretty parachutes. I think I have owned more than half a dozen over the years, not because I wore them out, but because I was interested in trying different ones. I finally found the perfect (for me) canopy and was mostly sad when I retired that I wouldn't be flying it any more. I don't miss packing it back into the container at all. In fact, the last time I packed it, I threw my back out and realized that maybe it was time to stop. I had done everything I ever hoped to accomplish in the skydiving world, and although there are plenty of seventy-year-olds still going strong, I decided it was time for me to stop before I hurt myself.

I do still fly my parachute in my dreams, though. Now that I am a retired skydiver, those adventures still come to me unbidden at irregular intervals. Between belly laughs with my mother and zooming around in the sky under my parachute, my dreams give me plenty of enjoyment as I snuggle under the covers on cold winter nights. I do hope you will have some sweet dreams yourself.

With that,  I realize that I've accomplished it once again: I've written another blog post. This one happens to be #419. That's a lot of Sundays since I started this blog. I've enjoyed writing almost every one of them, since it gives me a chance to connect with some great people: my wonderful readers. My partner, sleeping next to me, hasn't stirred since I got up to make some tea and get my laptop. I hope he's having a wonderful dream, and I wish you many, many sweet dreams until we meet again next week.


Linda Reeder said...

You are fortunate to have such pleasant dreams. Most mornings I am happy that I haven't dreamed that night, or a t least not that I am aware of. My dreams are mostly unpleasant I can't remember ever having a happy dream.

Tabor said...

I went back to read both posts. You are a good writer in that you really crawl inside and then carefully hold out your hand to invite us in ever so gently. I have a former blogger friend who is now dying of cancer and I follow her on Facebook as she gives me such strength and insight to challenges that she faces. I would be proud to be her. I guess we like to think we are more important than we think we are. I am also reading a book written by an amazing writer who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in his 50's who views this total change to his aging with some great humor. I would fall short. You are the third in my go-to this month for strength and inspiration. I have a serious family problem with one of my children and I do not know how to grasp joy, but maybe.....

Elephant's Child said...

I firmly believe we all need to dream. Asleep AND awake. And I love reading the places your mind takes you on Sunday - and am so grateful to have found you.
I hope your week is full of love, light and laughter.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, throughout my life, my dreams have mostly been enjoyable. Some were rich in symbolism and helped me on my path as I made conscious decisions in the day or the weeks that followed the dream.

I have hardly any symbolic dreams any more. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it has something to do with where I am in my life. Before moving win 2009, I had a dream in which J. K. Rowling, one of my most favorite authors, and I stood on a bridge. She encouraged me to think differently. To move forward. It was shortly after that dream that I realized that I needed to move back to my home state and rethink my writing.

I've always read that dreams are not about the people that dwell in them. Instead those people and the events from the past that we dream about represent something within ourselves that we want to examine. I've tried in the past few years to think about what any friend--met again in a dream--has symbolized to me: strength, flexibility, etc. That has led to an appreciation of my friends as well as to an understanding of what my own intuition is saying to me. Peace once again.

Marie Smith said...

I could never write as you do, Jan, letting the ideas flow as you sit and drink your tea. I sit and drink tea as I read your post. Good luck tomorrow! Have a great week!

Arkansas Patti said...

I too have vivid dreams and enjoy them. It is like living two lives. I can sometimes direct mine and often realize I am dreaming--especially if it is a rather annoying one. I'll just say "Relax Patti, it is just a dream."
Hope your pre-op goes well and know you will be happy when it is behind you.

Gigi said...

I rarely dream - or at least it's rare that I recall having a dream. Good luck tomorrow!

I'm off to read last week's post, I think somehow I missed that one.

Have a great week!

Red said...

I like your ending for a post on dreams. I talk with my teacher friends about teacher dreams. After 20 years retirement , I still have the odd teacher dream. Cataract surgery has become very simple these days. At least that's what my friends tell me. Yours will go well.

Marty said...

Like Red, I still have teacher dreams. They're annoying because I'm never prepared or in the right place.
I dreamed about flying a great deal as a child, but all I ever did was hover against the ceiling. I've since read that this could have related to a desire for escape, and when I consider my childhood, it makes sense.

Best wishes tomorrow.

Rita said...

I was a smoker (and enjoyed it) from 1969 to 1989, I still smoke in my dreams--but I tell people I have cut way, way down. I wake up talking out loud to people in my dreams or laughing and on more rare occasions crying. I dream in color. Some are realistic and some are fanciful or bizarre. I often jump during dreams to other locations and time periods. Like I'm in a car and I jump to being in a carriage or on a horse cart. If it's a bad dream I can tell myself to change the channel. If it's a really good dream and I wake up or get woken up I can sometimes go back to sleep and continue the dream. Since fibro and arthritis I have what I call Pain dreams where I work the pain into the dream--like I am being sliced by knives in my back or something like that--but I am never afraid or scared in the pain dreams for some reason. Dreams have always fascinated me. I sometimes can go for months and months without ever remembering one and that makes me sad. They often answer questions for me or give me insight or make me laugh so I miss them when I can't remember at least a little part of them. Always love your Sunday reflections. :)

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Dreams, to me, are one of the great mysteries of life. When I stop and think about them it just seems so incredible that the brain is able to create those detailed scenarios that seem so real. Although I’ve never experienced skydiving, I wonder if I could create a dream about it? And how would it compare to a dream a real skydiver might have? Thanks for another post that stirs up the wonder in me. Have a great week ahead!

Sally Wessely said...

Dream a little dream with me is a great title for this. Dreams amaze me. I know just what is bothering me in life by what I dream about. I’d love to be a dream catcher and actually record those dreams I sometime have.

Rian said...

It's a wonderful feeling to wake up laughing from a dream... not so much crying, but I've done both. Used to have really lucid dreams that I could continue, but not as much anymore. Also used to have flying dreams that were wonderful - as well as out of body experiences (or that's what I called them) which was the ultimate "freedom" experience.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Keep us posted on your progress!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I have a sleep disorder and it pops up now and again when I am under stress but it is not every night... parasomnias are no fun. Sleep Walk talk run I do it all...my husband just shakes his head:) Now that I am ageing I have potty dreams...always looking for one:)
I am thankful for the happy peaceful dreams I have some nights...as I am sure you love your sky diving dreams:)

Glenda Beall said...

I seldom remember my dreams now. I used to have horrible nightmares. I would awake shaking and breathing fast. I don't miss those dreams. I remember a few good ones I dreamed my husband was sitting beside my bed shortly after he died. He spoke to me in this dream. He said he was with me and that he was Okay.
I hope your surgery will help your vision and don't be surprised if you don't see a difference right away. I love your posts each week and admire your discipline. I look forward to hearing good news about your surgery and your sight.