It’s amazing how quickly the brain adjusts to intentions when it comes to remembering dreams, as if something deep within us wants us to pay attention to them, and it only needs a little encouragement to make them want to be remembered when we awake.

A Funny Thing Happened …

I love writing dream sequences in my stories. The rules of reality are (for the most part) suspended, but you get to have the fun of making a pretense of them for the sake of creating a story within your character’s mind. A story that tells them something about themselves they need to know to advance the plot in their waking life.

I love this idea so much that it makes me jealous… because I typically don’t remember my dreams. Not a whit. The alarm goes off and, oh, there. Nope, gone.

There are exceptions: Yesterday morning, I was having one of those dreams you sometimes get when things are so intriguing (or sexy) that you don’t want to open your eyes for fear of it ending too soon. Your body is waking up, you realize you’re dreaming, but somehow this doesn’t end it. So the dream actually becomes more lucid, and you want to see it through.

Ever have those? I hope so, because otherwise I’m going to sound silly.

In those situations when you’re already partially awake anyway, it’s not hard to hold onto the memory of them for a little bit once you do open your eyes.

And if by chance you decide to write them down… watch what happens the next morning! It’s pretty amazing.

Why a Dream Journal

From my experience, it seems to be the sheer act of recording a dream that opens the floodgates of remembering more dreams. From memory to hand to paper, this conscious processing of subconscious information seems to be a signal our mind was hoping for, encouraging the process.

Write down a dream and the following day the next dream will be waiting for you, too, just itching to be scribbled in a fat pink journal. It is as if our dreams want to be looked at in the light of day.

I remember when I was living in Hawaii for a year and my girlfriend at the time encouraged not only remembering and recording our dreams, but would help me find the symbols within them and see what they were saying about my internal life, the one that influences how I’m dealing with the world. So I started writing down the ones I could remember when I woke.

Just the action of recording a dream on paper immediately signaled my brain to hold onto them. For my entire time in Hawaii, my dream journal was filled with almost daily entries, some several pages long, with detail that was normally lost to me within seconds of waking.

And then one day it stopped. It was my own fault. My dreams once more became that thing “I didn’t have anymore,” but I knew I just wasn’t remembering them.

This morning, when my phone woke me (I feel sorry for the alarm clock industry with phone apps these days), my dream was right there waiting for me to jot it down. Any day prior to yesterday, the alarm would have sent it flying into the wind of forgetfulness.

I think it is the journal itself, or the promise of it, that spurs our brains to give us this gift.

What We May be Missing

When my Hawaii relationship ended and I moved back to the mainland, alone, my dream journal went silent. Just one of a handful of things I lost motivation for after finding myself once more in my own company.

But I think it was to my detriment that I didn’t keep my dream journaling going. I was missing out on some prime meta-data; some wonderful life stuff I could use to advance the plot of my own real-life story.

Time alone is the perfect time to explore our inner selves, to find what went wrong, and to see what we should have learned from it.

It is pretty common wisdom that regardless of who we blame for the situation, the plight of any relationship is shared equally. And I should have been taking the time to see what my part in the ending of it was–and the beginning. Perhaps only then will I figure out why I keep attracting people who are ultimately wrong for me, despite how right they seem for a time.

Our dreams come from the smartest part of us: our subconscious (the part that doesn’t forget anything, just ask a hypnotist), busy in there figuring us all out.

Perhaps we should grab a journal and listen to it.

(Something new for me: a 50-word submission for, featuring one of my idols, who I wrote a poem about here.)

“Being an aerospace engineer wasn’t enough: he had wings in his garage. Doped fabric tightening across spars on sawhorses. But a heart flutter snatched his license away. Family pictures reflected his torment, fettered to the ground. I cried when he left us, but happy he got his wings back.”

I was perhaps 6 or 7 when I first visited the garage. The wings were suspended at about eye level for me then and smelled of something worse than turpentine. But they fascinated me more than anything in my young, turbulent life and set the stage for my learning to fly a couple of decades later.

Welcome back to Foible Monday!

This one is about a thing I call my “speech impeddlement,” because certain words seem to jump on a bicycle and pedal away whenever I go looking for them. I’ll catch them yet . . . then they’ll be sorry. Oddly, it only seems to happen when I’m speaking–not when I’m writing.

Apparently my fingers are smarter than my mouth (big surprise there . . . not).

Most of my friends already know about this. They laugh and laugh and laugh. Okay, maybe I just imagine they do on the inside. I admit it is pretty weird. I don’t want to talk about it . . . so I’ll type it instead. It’s safer that way . . .

Word Finding D— … uhm


swiss-cheese-brain-150x150If most human brains resemble a glob of overcooked spaghetti left to drain too long, then mine more resembles swiss cheese: it has big round holes in it that words fall into. There aren’t that many holes, though I’ve never tried to count, but there’s no telling which words will trip and fall into them.

The first holed-word I remember not remembering is “backhoe”. I know right? It’s not like this is a word I use often in daily life, but when I saw one parked in my neighborhood one day, all I could tell you was that it was a big yellow hole digging machine that began with a “B”.

This is another weird side-effect of this phenomenon: I can almost always tell you the first letter and a nice definition of the lost word but, for the life of me, I cannot tell you the word itself.

In programmer-ese: It’s an indexing problem.

The latest victim seems to be “passport.” I only know this from a curious teenaged member of my family–at the time–who periodically quizzed me on the green and blue bird with the amazing tail feathers that begins with a “P”, or the place where they put dead bodies that begins with a “G”, or the sparkly round things sewn on dresses that begin with an “S” … or that thing you need to cross an international border that begins with a “P”, which apparently I have already forgotten.

All this good-natured quizzing actually helped pull an abused word or three out of its hole into the light of day. I can remember that big yellow machine now, sometimes. But I’ve found as soon as I help one distressed word out of its hole, some other poor hapless word will fall into it.

Memories …

If only my brain holes kept themselves to my speech centers. Occasionally an entire memory falls victim to this indexing problem, as well. Take a common, ordinary occurrence we both partook in the other day, such as meeting an interesting person at a local park. hdd-crashingA few days later you may wax poetically about this chance meeting and notice my brow furrowing. You’ve caught me attempting to query my index.

Another memory has gone AWOL.

But if you happen to mention the strange rutabaga earrings she was wearing that day—bing, flop, “index match complete,”  bonk, ping!—suddenly it all comes flowing back in HD Technicolor with special features and deleted scenes!

Don’t ask me to explain it, as if it made any sense to me; especially since I’d probably lose a word or two in the process. I’m not terribly motivated to try to fix it anyway, because it keeps my friends amused.