This I Believe

Leslie - Oviedo, Florida
Entered on December 3, 2006

This I Believe:

Answers are a Catnap Away

When I’m troubled by a problem, I head for bed. This isn’t due to laziness or irresponsibility; it’s just proof of my belief in the theories of Sigmund Freud. He wrote in “The Interpretation of Dreams” that although some dreams are merely residues of events in waking life, others represent repressed and hidden components brought forth only because the censoring apparatus is less efficient in sleep.

On most nights I just process the boring residues of my daily waking life. I blend snippets of conversations with television commercials and the contents of my refrigerator for a hodgepodge of meaningless chatter and images. When I’m troubled by a problem, however, I look forward to uncensored dreams in which those normally repressed and hidden parts of my psyche come out to play – and solve my problems.

Sure, I talk to friends, listen to relatives, research the Internet, consult spiritual leaders, counselors, doctors, lawyers, or whatever professionals relate to my particular problem. But my internal censor won’t allow me to disassociate the message from the messenger, even when an unreliable source provides reliable information and vice versa. And sometimes my heart and mind are in disagreement. When it gets to be too much, I close my eyes and drift off to sleep, letting my uncensored subconscious mind factor and filter the information.

Unlike the ancients who believed that dreams originated from the gods (except for naughty dreams sent by demons), I think that Freud got it right: Dreams come from and relate to our inner selves. Therefore, any answer I ever need is just a catnap away.

Getting answers from dreams is actually quite easy. I’ve been keeping a dream diary since the late 1970s when I saw an episode of “The Tonight Show” featuring an author plugging her book about dream interpretation. She aided her dream recall through recitation of a mantra upon retiring each night. She would say something like, “I will remember my dreams. I will write them down. I will be grateful.”

I figured she was oversimplifying the process, but decided to try it anyway. That night, I recited the mantra and placed a pen and notebook on my nightstand with the hope of a child placing a newly lost tooth under the pillow. Would the dream fairy come during the night and leave me something special for the morning?

Sure enough the next day it was as if I’d placed a fistful of teeth under the pillow. I remembered so many dreams I could not write them down fast enough. Four dreams and a fragment actually made it into the notebook. I’ve been keeping records of my dreams ever since and mining the treasures from my nightly visions.

Why isn’t everyone taking advantage of their best source for free advice or more accurately, their free source for best advice? Whenever I hear people say “if you snooze you lose,” I just smile. For me, if I snooze, I win.