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Chronicling your dreams can lead to understanding

 

Last spring I searched through a bookshelf at Goodwill looking for new material. I bought a stack of books, read the ones that most interested me and put the others aside.

I took many classes that spring semester, finding my Psychology 201 course most intriguing, but despite being immensely interested in the material, I found myself longing for a better articulation of how psychology could be applied to my everyday life.

Near the end of the semester I approached my psychology teacher, Maureen Flynn, asking her what classes I could take or books I could read to further my understanding.

After a brief conversation regarding what I wanted to learn and a short walk outside Peabody Hall, she asked if I had read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor who developed his theory of man’s will to meaning from his experiences.

It then dawned on me that professor Flynn was recommending one of the books I had recently purchased from Goodwill but put aside for a later day. I knew exactly where the book was and quietly excused myself from the conversation to go home and read it.

That peculiar sequence sparked my interest in psychology, and that interest was later parlayed into an interest in Carl Jung and, more generally, the study of dreams — a subject in which I had always been interested but never was able to think critically about due to dreams’ fantastical nature; that’s where psychology and the study of dream analysis come into play.

The subject matter found in dreams is highly subjective and always anecdotal, which is why your dreams will only make complete sense to you but can serve as great metaphors for others. Many artists mine their dreams for material — Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Jack Kerouac’s “Book of Dreams” come to mind — but how can one “keep” his or her dreams?

It’s fairly simple: write them down.

For close to a year I have been chronicling my dreams in a dream journal.

It was difficult at first because my dreams seemed bizarre, and your dreams may, too, but every day in our waking lives would seem bizarre if we could only remember brief, unrelated clips from them that we were barely conscious to observe, which is essentially all you will remember from your dreams if you choose not to write them down and analyze them.

Every day when I wake up I grab a pen and paper and take note of what happened in my dreams — the places I went, the things I did, the people I talked to. Sometimes what I write down requires elaboration — other times it’s as simple as a matter of fact.

Writing down your dreams aids memory by helping you preserve details that would otherwise be rapidly forgotten, no matter how memorable they seemed originally.

But the best part about chronicling your dreams is learning to recognize and evaluate their content, so when you dream your own “Frankenstein” you’ll know how to capture it.

One day you’ll look over the dreams you’ve logged and realize that you’ve got enough material for the column (or novel, screenplay, etc.) that had before only existed in your head.

With dreams being entirely subjective, I can’t prove this makes any sense, but I sure hope it does. I had many inspirations for this column, mainly Job 33:15. Look it up.

Your dreams are the most intrinsic part of who you are; keep them.

 

Andrew Dickson is a senior religious studies major from Terry.