I keep having these dreams where I'm standing on the edge of a cliff. On both sides of me are people in all black, wearing masks. Their features are undistinguishable.
One says, "Jump."
The other says, "Stay."
The landscape is surreal, like a Dali fever dream. It's laden with neon pinks and purples as you look skyward. The cliff itself is an intense copper color, like the pure clay you can unearth from a muddy riverbank if you dig far enough down.
I'm just standing there, right on the edge...on the verge of teetering over and falling if I don't pay the utmost attention to where my feet are. I'm wearing black jeans and a white shirt. My white / blonde hair is covered in a black scarf.
Something is wrong, but I'm not sure what.
There is nothing before or after this moment. The dream only exists here, in this very spot where I have to choose whether to jump or stay.
I can't see below me, just mist. There could be a great cavern filled with pointed rocks and jagged spikes. If I jump, I'll surely fall to my death.
On the other hand, there could be a fluffy cloud or a giant pile of money...some great adventure I could never imagine myself below. If I don't jump, I could ruin my life just the same.
My dream-self is in a state of panic, as one would expect when faced with an existential decision that could lead to death: the ultimate unknown.
I keep switching back and fourth as the two masked people speak to me in monotones:
But I can't bring myself to make a decision. My thoughts descend into madness...then...the dream suddenly feels like a waking reality. My banal daily thoughts come into my dream scape:
Did you get enough sleep?
How could you forget to eat again?
Make sure you buy new foundation today. Wouldn't want to face the world without any makeup on.
Why are you eating that?
The list continues on and on until my dream-self screams "OKAY I'LL JUMP."
The figure on my left, who encouraged the jumping in the first place pushes me.
And as my feet leave the safety of the cliff.
I wake up.
Come on! How cheap is that. I'll never know what happens, that is until this dream haunts me again.
It comes twice per week. Never on the same day as before.
Our brains have a funny way of unleashing our subconscious so we don't have to deal with all the dark and twisted things that are really happening. Sleep, the ultimate source of relaxation can sometimes act as a wake-up call. How ironic.
Dreams by definition are subconscious renderings of feeling, thinking, perceiving and living through a sleeping state.
So basically, your dreams contain another life, another dimension separate from our waking one. That's pretty cool right?
But what is it all for? Why do I keep having this dream about falling off a cliff? The answer is not easy to find, but here are some indications for why we dream in general, and what the purpose could possibly be.
Some studies suggest some qualifications for dreams and their purpose:
-offline memory processing (this is more along the lines of arbitrary recharging, like plugging in your phone at night.)
- Dreaming is a unique state of consciousness that marries three dimensions of thought: processing of the past, present and preparation for the future. (this might be another good explanation for my crazy cliff dream)
-Processing space for complex thoughts and difficult decisions
But these don't necessarily account for all of the nonsense dreams we have where literally nothing makes sense right?
Dreams always have a connection to our waking life. Even if you're in a cloud castle surrounded by Mario characters...there's something about it that is tied to your regular life. Like...if you're wandering through the cloud kingdom and your dad randomly shows up to yell at you. Your dream probably has a lot more to do with your issues with your dad then your need to escape into the clouds. Right?
Dreams are a way for the subconscious to communicate with your conscious self.
There are a few main reasons dreams attempt to do this:
-To represent unconscious desires and wishes (like when you don't actively care about getting married, but you keep having dreams about dating or marrying a celebrity...shh...it happens!)
-To interpret random signals from the brain and body during sleep ( this happens when you feel like you're falling and you get that sensation and wake up.) I used to have a dream where a dog was chasing me and I'd feel it biting me. How scary is that?
-To consolidate and process information gathered during the day (to recharge and process. This is why you don't remember all of your dreams. Some scientists say that people dream every single night. Most of them involve you dreaming about rest though...so like...that's good I guess.)
-To work as a form of psychotherapy (This is what I think my dream is doing. Working out some subconscious issue I have with the unknown, probably death in particular. I have a diagnosed fear of it, and that's where my panic attacks stem from.)
Wait...did I just figure it out!?
I think my dream is trying to work out what I'm afraid of. This subconscious fear of doing anything, for fear of dying. As someone who has taken so many bodily risks and created so many dangerous situations for herself, it's kind of ironic that I'm so fearful of death.
I think it's the unknown part that gets me. And this dream...well, it makes me decide whether to risk, or stay on the cliff. To jump and face it or live in fear. I have to decide.
So last night, my dream-self chose to jump. And though I might never know what's on the other side of that decision, at least I chose.
Maybe it's trying to tell me to have the courage to just keep moving, and to never second guess or look back.