To Sleep, Perchance to Dream . . . What Dreams May Come?

I’m writing this at 3am, having awakened from yet another dream of falling.  This has become a recurring theme in my dreams lately.  No matter how pleasantly the dreams begin, they always end up with me on the edge of some sort of precipice or trying to balance myself on a surface of impossible angle, or both at once.  The dreams aren’t actually of falling, they’re of the fear of falling, and I invariably find myself on all fours, feeling my stomach tumbling end over end, clinging desperately to the earth lest my body follow. 

I have heard people say that you should never tell others about your dreams (too late!), because they are never as interesting to other people as they are to you.  I don’t agree with that.  I love to hear others tell me about their dreams, if they can recall them well enough, and recount them with the same verve as they would have narrating a real-life event or a particularly juicy piece of gossip.  I think you can gain marvelous insight into the workings of another person’s mind and heart through their dreams. That said, I’ve never put much stock in dream analysis, the hidden symbolism in objects and situations that commonly occur in dreams, mainly because none of them ever seemed to apply to me — I have yet to find an interpretation of a dream involving a Stargate-like portal in your chest from which you pull cake from the future (yes, I really dreamed this once).

Many of these interpretations seem to be overcomplicating the subject — does dreaming about a bathroom really mean you are “having difficulties letting go of old emotions“, or does it just mean you have to go?  If you dream about sex, is it really symbolic of “the integration and merging of contrasting aspects of yourself“?  Or could it be that, just maybe, you’re aroused?  What’s the most likely explanation?

My dreams have always been extremely vivid, and there are several recurring themes in my dreams, some of which are easy enough to explain.  I’ve dreamt of tornadoes ever since seeing one pass behind my house when I was nine years old.  Sometimes the dreams are terrifying — scrambling for shelter, feeling my heart beating in unison with the thump and roar of the destruction above — and sometimes they’re like a recreation of that long-ago evening, me watching the dense gray funnel moving slowly across the horizon with a feeling of detached bemusement.  


I spent a large part of my childhood watching the slow and steady construction of a massive bridge which connected the peninsula I lived on to the mainland, and since then I’ve had dreams of bridges.  Some beautiful, tall and stately, and glowing as though the sunset had infused into the concrete; others even taller, but narrow and ramshackle like the track of a vintage wooden roller coaster.  And of course, there are the dreams where I find myself driving across that bridge of my childhood, only to discover it incomplete, and I launch off its ragged edge into the air, the smooth and effortless freefall contrasting with the jolt of my sudden awakening. 

Which brings me back to the newest recurring subject:  cliffs and slopes.  What is my subconscious trying to tell me with this series of dreams?  What do the edges and steep inclines symbolize?  An aspect of my life?  A person?  A concept?  What is their meaning?  Do they have any meaning at all?  Perhaps these new dreams are an expression of a fear of losing control, of trying to maintain the status quo when the events of your life make it an impossibility.  Maybe the incline symbolizes aging, the desperate attempt to fight against the gravity of time to which all of us eventually succumb. 

Or maybe I’m just afraid of heights. 

External links & references

  1. Why running dreams matter
  2. Scientists decode dreams with brain scans
  3. Dreams of the famous

Shannon Daley

Shannon Daley has been hanging around online corners for over twenty years. She contributes on an American's perspective, on politics, culture and technology. Location: Southwest by South.