I rarely remember my dreams. I’m not sure why, though I’d bet it has to do with my various sleep issues and how rarely I feel properly rested, but this has been my experience for my entire life. I can’t remember a time in my life that I recall waking up with the details of a dream in my mind more than once in a long while. Most of the time, the dreams I do recall are bad ones, full of negative emotions and unpleasant images perhaps only still present in my mind because the experience of these dreams was so awful that I shook myself awake from them. The rest are a general smattering of the sort of odd, disconnected ideas and sequences that seem to form most dreams and are utterly unremarkable in any way other than their rarity.
That said, I know I do dream. I may not remember them, I may not even recall having some kind of mental experience upon waking up, but most mornings, as I push myself from my bed and exhort myself through my morning routines, I can feel the emotional residue of my dreams clinging to me like bedhead that just won’t quit or the tacky, crusty feeling of sleepy eyes first thing in morning. It will go away eventually, this emotional residue, but not always as quickly as my bedhead and eye grossness. Those things are instantly cleared up with a shower and fifteen minutes of bleary effort. So far, I’ve been unable to find a way to rinse off the emotional residue of my dreams that doesn’t involve some generally unhealthy emotional effort.
This residue can color my mood for the entire day. I can usually stop it, if it is counterproductive or I wish to push my day in a different direction than wherever these lingering emotions would lead me. After all, it’s like the faint traces of color from an improperly cleaned paintbrush rather than as if I had skipped cleaning my paintbrush altogether. It will have some impact, but it is easily drowned in enough of another color or can be used to add depth or nuance to a different shade of the same color. It would be better if I could figure out how to properly clean the brush, but I’m still working on that. My morning routine of exercise, stretching, and daily preparation can go have a cleansing effect, but sometimes it has the opposite effect instead. If the lingering emotion is strong enough, taking the time to exercise and almost meditatively stretch will intensify it rather than relieve it.
Every so often, the emotional residue of my unremembered dreams will be strong and specific enough that it will hint at the content of said dreams. For instance, today I woke up feeling accomplished and capable. As I went through my morning routine, that developed into a feeling of satisfaction and future possibility that made me feel like I’d finally crossed off all of the long-term items on my “major life labors” to-do list and figured out what my next five to ten years of life will entail. If you also consider that I stayed up super late playing a video game that had me focusing on resource management and kept me going into the wee hours of the morning by playing out a whole swath of anticipated events and quest-chain conclusions in the final three hours of my playtime, I feel like there’s only one possible conclusion. Clearly my dream from the brief three and a half hours of sleep I got last night involved many accomplishments, much success, and the confirmation that everything I desired was possible.
Putting it that way, it’s kind of a blessing that I don’t remember the dream. Waking up to a world with so much still to go before I reach my goals, so much I might never get to do, and so many problems I don’t know how to solve right now would have been so incredibly cruel if I’d just left a world where everything I dreamed of and more had already been done or was actually achievable. Not that my current life is super horrible or anything. Just normal amounts of horrible. The every-day usual amounts that go hand-in-hand with reactionary political movements, the othering of minorities, and the never-ending loss of an on-going pandemic that almost my entire society has decided is done for the sake of those rich few who benefit the most from unchecked and exploitative capitalism.
Yep. Definitely glad I don’t remember that utopian dream.