This I Believe

Emily - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 12, 2006

I’m in a bright purple forest; green banana leaves raining down over a glossy apartment complex with far too many windows. I break in and search frantically through the mounds of clothes and blankets on the floor. I leave with nothing, but five minutes later I’m informed that I’ve just won the Nobel Peace Prize. I stop in to pick it up, then swing by the grocery store for a 2-liter of pop when I realize that the prize is all squishy. As I’m trying to decide how to react, my eyes open, I roll over, and I start again. See, I believe in dreams.

When I say dreams, I don’t mean the kind you find on inspirational posters, the grand ideas lacking foundations, or even the notion that everyone can grow up to be president. These are shallow imitations of what I find when I’m asleep: the entire notion of life and being distilled down into five minutes of utter nonsense. “In dreams,” says Stéphane Miroux in The Science of Sleep, “emotions are overwhelming.” On some level, dreams are a chance to truly be myself, free from expectations, limitations, and even common sense. Everything I’m feeling, and even things I didn’t know I was thinking, are poured out into the subconscious stew of my life and mixed up into an incredible parallel universe, a place I can only know when my eyes are closed.

I once dreamed I’d read so much poetry that my heart got soft and I rolled in the dew at sunrise, and I think I may just be a hopeless romantic about the whole thing. But it’s hard not to be fascinated by something so ephemeral and mysterious, hard not to get melancholy when you find something so resolutely beautiful on its own terms. I don’t know if dreams are useful, and I’ll leave that to Freud and But I do know that they’re a form of art that exists within each of us, in the same way we have a heart or a spleen. Radiohead’s Let Down, easily the greatest song of all time, was born out of a dream in which the floor dropped out of a bar and everyone held on to the ceiling over the abyss. I can’t tell you what that means, but I can feel that it’s beautiful, and what else can I expect from my life? I’m usually lucky to get anything worked out, but maybe all that stuff about just needing love is right after all. To be sure, it’s a cliché, but as they say, I can dream, can’t I? When each night brings a fresh adventure, clichés don’t exist anymore.

Calderón said that “every man who lives is only dreaming,” and I expect nothing less from my life. Dreams have shown me that life doesn’t make sense, but above all else that it is beautiful. I believe that when I wake up, my dreams will still be warm in my mind.