I read a lot but I have never read an article about older people dreaming. Do people think we stop dreaming when we eat our 65th birthday cake? In both senses of dreaming, the world at large seems to think we've lost that part of our lives as men lose their hair and women too often lose their waists. Well, it's not true. We keep on dreaming of things for ourselves -- and, no, it's not just that we should see our grandchildren married or spend days on a Florida beach. We dream of the things we have not accomplished and may yet have time to do. We dream as we always have done but the objects, I think, are now honed to a more realistic future. The world that thinks we don't dream but live in some TV or golf course fog has stopped seeing us as people with anticipations and aspirations. I find that insulting.
Likewise the world of psychiatry seems not to care what we dream about at night. If they ever ask, if they ever write about it, it's kept to the pages of obscure journals. I've never seen anything of the sort in a novel. What's wrong with writers that they think their 70- or 80-soemthing characters have no inner life? Speaking for myself, I've lately noticed a dream life that is different from my past dream live, more complex and often more dramatic.
Like many other people, at earlier stages in my life I kept dream journals. For a while I discovered that if I made a practice of writing my dreams shortly after awaking they began to multiple. At times dreams seemed to want to take over my waking life. But I was busy with many things. I couldn't let that happen. So I stopped writing down the dreams and, like bodies during a fast, they grew less robust. I reached a balance that worked for me when I wrote down especially vivid dreams and forgot the rest.
I don't write down the dreams these days, but some stay with me for many hours. Last night there were leopards, beautiful, sleek and silky. But then they came indoors and became menacing. I was not frightened that they would kill me, so they shrunk to kitten size and when I threw one out the door, I felt sad because I had endangered it.
What does that mean? I don't know. I never dreamed about wild animals in the psst. If I had a therapist would s/he care about that dream? Maybe not much if I went on to tell about another that came to me an hour later with people in it from my past whose ages and abodes changed almost moment by moment in the dream
These images have stayed with me today. Are they messengers or simple another of the several things that made up today? I think the later, a strange and peculiar part of life as I now live it. I wish someone with training in the field were writing about such things. I'd be curious what's happening in the lives of others whose life after the Big 7-0 is more complex than they ever expected it to be.
Sumita Dutta paints - GIRL
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