What Dreams May Come

 Hello again from Mountain Mecca & Hippie Heaven!

Last night, before climbing aboard the train to Sleep Land, I tried to count how many friends and lovers over my 37 years have been victims of this phrase:

“I had the __________ dream last night!”

In the blank space you can put crazy, wild, weird, cool, scary, bizarre, etc. Any of those words will work. What can I say? My sleeping life is all of those adjectives and more. Prez likes to tease me about my love for sleep but if you could go to a place where you can fly, hang out with famous dead people, and eat cupcakes the size of basketballs wouldn’t you be eager to go there too?

Do you dream? Yes, you do. You may not remember them, but dreams are an essential part of the REM sleep cycle. We all dream, what fascinates me is why some people can recall their dreams in minute detail while others are left with only a vague sense of what happened, and others are not aware they dream at all. Some of us dream in colour, some in black and white. As I’ve gotten older, my physical senses, beyond sight and sound, have become heightened in my dreams (great when you’re eating the giant cupcake, not so great when a serial killer is stabbing you with a letter opener). Why is this?

Occasionally I can control my dreams. For about a year in my early teens, I was plagued by nightmares so graphic that I would often wake and not be able to sleep for the rest of the night. The theme was always the same: my friends and I were being chased by someone, or something, who wanted to kill us (and usually did). During one of these nightmares, I was running full tilt through a forest, adrenaline pumping, heart pounding out of my chest, with an axe murderer hot on my trail. The forest cleared and there was an Old West town directly in front of me, populated by my friends. I ran to the town for help but instead watched, horrified, as the axe murderer hacked up one person after another. It was shaping up to be the same old nightmare again when, POP, a thought came into my dreaming-self’s head: “This is only a dream; I can do whatever I want!” Then I looked down and there in the dust, at my feet, was a gun, which I promptly picked up and shot Mr. Axe Murderer dead.

That was the end. Not only of Mr. Axe Murderer, but also of my ongoing nightmares. And since that night, I am sometimes able to recognize that I am dreaming and control what is happening. Why? I wish I knew.

There is a school of thought I attended for awhile that believes dreams have meanings. “Oh, you dreamt about dying and that means rebirth, so you are about to enter a time of spiritual rebirth.” After 37 years of dreams and nightmares so off the wall they make a Salvador Dali painting look normal, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no meaning to the images that come to us when we sleep, except the meaning we give them. Make what you will of my dream of my friend Graham being eaten alive by a seven-foot-tall beaver but I’m convinced it was merely a case of too much pizza before bed.

Here’s my theory: When you’re asleep everything shuts down and your brain has very little to do. Like a hyper-active child suddenly deprived of toys (i.e. sensory input, problems to solve, etc.) the brain has to find some mischief to get into. (OK, that isn’t a very scientific explanation but you get the point, I hope).

About now you’re thinking ‘Oh great, we’re going to have an entire Chronicle about her dreams. Is Nelson that boring? God, I think I’ll go watch Canadian Parliament on C-Span, that’s more interesting than this drivel!’ Fine, go ahead, leave now, what do you care if you miss the whole sex part of this story, right? Oh, I see. Now you’re interested. Shall I continue?

The idea for this Dream Chronicle came to me two nights ago after waking from a flying dream. I loooooooove flying dreams (almost as much as cupcakes) and hate to wake up from them. So, I’m lying there, awake, thinking about dreams, and flying, and stuff, and I thought, Aha! Whatever I dream about tomorrow night will be the subject of this week’s Chronicle! Except…um…last night I dreamt I was a porn star so…erm…ah…this week’s topic is “Porn”.

So let’s talk about porn.

Are you feeling as awkward as I am? Well, maybe we should have a few drinks to relax first. That’s better. Now I’ll dim the lights and we can get comfortable on the couch…

In the dream I was a porn star. I didn’t actually do any of the porn stuff in the dream (and I wouldn’t tell you about it if I did – my mother-in-law reads this for goodness sake!) but I knew that was my job, and I was distressed because my friends and family would no longer speak to me they were so disgusted by my career choice (Prez was fine with it, what a surprise).

The thing is, however you, I, or anyone else feels about it, porn is BIG business. Estimates range from 4 to 10 billion annual revenue. That’s a lot of people paying to look at other people naked!

Now, I have mixed feelings when it comes to porn. Most of it is crap, lots of it is exploitive, some of it is dangerous, and all of it can send the wrong message. If you need porn to excite you, if you neglect real relationships for porn, if you believe the story lines are real and that the next time you walk into H&R Block to get your taxes done you may be greeted by a trio of buxom vixens eager to get to your “bottom line”, then you, my friend, have a problem.

On the other hand, most of us get excited by pornographic images – whether we want to admit it or not – and if we use those images to enhance our sex life then what’s so wrong with that?

“But porn is dirty, disgusting, and I hate it!” you’re telling me now. Really?

There was a psych study done several years ago about our attitudes toward porn. A group of subjects was surveyed about their feelings about “adult video”. Then that same group was hooked up to all kinds of medical gizmos to monitor their physical reactions while watching various porn videos. They were also asked to comment on how they felt while they watched it. What happened? Well, almost everyone became excited to some degree. What was interesting, though, is the number of people who were watching the videos and saying, “No, I don’t like this. This doesn’t stimulate or excite me at all,” while their physical response was saying, “Yeah baby! I love it!”

So, culturally we’ve been conditioned to believe sexual images are wrong, are dirty, are sinful, but our bodies still respond positively to them. Hmmm.

Why are we so uncomfortable with sex in North American society? Magazines with pictures of naked people have to be kept covered and out of the reach of children, and yet we have no qualms about the hundreds, thousands, of violent images they take in every day. We let our kids watch TV shows like Survivor where humans are at their very worst behavior – lying, sneaking, plotting, betraying, all for money – but heaven forbid they should see naked bums or boobies! We have strange priorities.

No, I don’t want a world full of porn, but I don’t want a world where consenting adults are made to feel bad for looking at other consenting adults having sex, either.

I do want a world full of cupcakes the size of basketballs, but, for now, I suppose I must be content with my dreams.

Question: Cupcakes or porn?

Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The Princess 

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