Am I the only one who has noticed that dreams at night are becoming more vivid and sometimes quite troubling?
Since the Covid pandemic began, I hear some estimates as high as 53% of the American population now reporting an increase in vivid dreams and a 25% increase in nightmare activity. Not sure how reliable such data might be, so I tend to question it. But I do know my own experience and, gee, have I had some whoppers lately!
As one who seldom remembers any dream I wake up to, I now have little trouble reliving them even in an awakened state. For instance, the other night I had one where I was tasked with conducting a band concert and my performance anxiety was through the roof! Not only was I not prepared, having never even played a band instrument of any kind before…..but with the concert due to start, I found many of our instruments were caked in mud. There was grand debate over whether the garden hose could wash off the mud without ruining the instruments. We were all off the charts anxious about how we were supposed to go on stage with muddy horns, and then there was the issue of my knowing none of the music we were to play for the concert. I was a wreck by the time I crawled out of bed that morning.
Last night’s dream was somewhat less dramatic, but not by much. I was engaged in a brutal argument with a staunch Reformed Protestant arguing the principles of John Calvin’s T.U.L.I.P. acronym for his theology. I could not argue effectively because all I could remember of such nonsense, far as my own ideas about God are concerned, was that T stood for Total depravity and I was Irresistible grace. U? L? P? Upon leaving the bed this a.m. I was so worked up I had to Google Calvin’s T.U.L.I.P. just to resolve in my own mind what the argument was all about.
While such vivid recall of my dreams is abnormal for me, I wonder if it’s not normal for the situation at hand. The Covid Pandemic has brought to mind a number of firsts, kind of like my directing an orchestra, having never been a musician. Mud on the instruments is like germs on the shelves or the carts or whathaveyou, I suppose. And starting on time, and knowing the music, reflects my larger question of when and how to return to life after Covid.
But arguing with a Calvinist over the meaning of T.U.L.I.P.?????
No clue where that one came from.
Back in my counseling days, I used to have some anecdotal success with clients who were complaining of nightmares as a part of their PTSD syndrome. Most got better when they began expressing their fears more openly, perhaps on paper, during their wakeful hours. My metaphor for such was that nightmares live in between the commas of our lives. Going to sleep after putting a period at the end of our fears, rather than a comma, seemed to resolve the need for the nightmares. Nightmares, themselves, are quite famous for ending in a comma. Which is no end at all. Our human fears and frustrations are like commas begging for a period. In other words, these days I will next have to work on ending my own days with a period. Something of which I am certain. For going to bed with a chain of commas and uncertainties will trigger dreams of that same nature.
With that in mind, where is the end of your sentence today? What is the one thing in your life’s story today that can end in a certainty, a period and not a comma? If doubt is handing you a comma before bedtime, where is the period at which your strongest faith can finally stop your self-talk? While you’re thinking about that, I’ll go first.
I have faith that when this “worst pandemic in our lifetime” ends someday, and it will, then our future will actually be better than our past. We’ll be better prepared to fight the next pandemic early on. We will allocate more national and global resources to healthcare and less to warfare. More to medical science and less to military science. We’ll invest in loving each other more than fearing each other. More in working together collectively as neighbors and nations; less in competing against each other as enemies. More in negotiating with each other and less in manipulating each other. I feel certain this is highly possible, when comparing our human future to that of our pre-Covid past.
I believe that Covid 19 is an opportunity for the me-first, competitive zero-sum nationalists in our world to fail miserably. For the selfish to experience self-doubt and the selfless a renewed self-confidence. For fear to be defeated and for love to be rewarded, even if this pandemic runs into the year 2022.
I believe our future will be better than our past. With fewer nightmarish commas when it comes to medical testing and resourcing. And fewer vivid dreams of mud-contaminated band instruments to delay the concert. That's my statement of faith for today before bedtime.