Everyone has them, even those who don’t think they do. Did you know that, ahem, according to a medically reviewed website, we spend an average of two hours a night dreaming, which supposedly adds up to six years of our lives? This seems pretty amazing to me. And a little disturbing.
Some fascinating inventions have been inspired by dreams (Elias Howe’s sewing machine and Mendeleyev’s periodic table, for instance). And many stories have sprung from dreams (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for one).
According to those who study sleep habits and dreaming, dreams are simply thinking in a more intuitive state. Parts of the brain sit back to let others take charge. Our daily experiences combine with information from past memories and create interesting results. Sometimes really interesting results.
Writers often compare the act of writing to dreaming (go here and here for examples). A question, though: If writing stories is akin to dreaming, how is reading them any different?
Why do we dream? No one really knows. But can dreams help us dwell in possibility? Maybe.
Here’s one of my favorite children’s poems about dreaming.
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
by Eugene Field
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe–
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked of the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”
The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea–
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish–
Never afeard are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam–
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought t’ was a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea–
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed,
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Picture source: Capadia Designs