Winter Dreams

by Elizabeth

In the winter it gets dark very early. The world is a quieter place—as though the darkness hangs over us, muffling sound and bringing our voices to whispers. Or maybe we don’t want to disturb the dark. Is there something still about darkness? Why is the night hushed? I guess that’s when the world goes to sleep and begins to dream, and there is something very intimate about dreams which makes us want to protect them. In our night-dreams, entire worlds unfold inside of us. It is a baffling reality which we find words insufficient to describe when we awake. Sometimes, if our recollection is strong and the dream was powerful, we discover something new and important about ourselves. Emotions come to the surface, even as we make our beds and pull on our clothes and get ready for the day, because we hold on to that very real thing that came out of our dream. What that very real thing is, I can’t say. Sometimes it may be an ache of longing for someone you once loved, and still do love—it’s the surprise of still feeling love that shakes you up. Other times, it may be the shock of realizing our vulnerability, our fleetingness—of realizing that the people surrounding you today will not always surround you, at least not in body, and so you must understand there’s no time to waste in showing them how much you care. There are times when a dream is strong enough to leave a physical impression, and you wonder how a sensation borne of a dream could feel so real. But, then, you realize—it is real in its way. What gives life to the body but the spirit within? It’s not too surprising, after all, to think that a longing of the heart, a germ of thought planted in the imagination, could be felt in the whole being, the feelings and physical senses included. Of course, sometimes the content of our dreams can be misleading. It would be absurd to apply a straightforward, or even a serious, interpretation to everything of which we dream. But we can shake out the wheat from the chaff, and sit quietly with the underlying meanings. If a dream prompts us to love more, or warns us not to take life for granted, then it would be foolish to throw aside the lesson. Dreams, ironically enough, are a wake-up call, rousing us to something greater or deeper by uncapping our senses and letting us feel and imagine in extreme ways. Sometimes we don’t give ourselves permission to fully engage our senses while we’re awake, and they—our senses—get bored and restless and then take their exercise while we sleep. Dreams can be friendly to us—a help, a guide to seeing in new ways. But they’re not meant to take us away from reality altogether. We can’t spend our whole lives sleeping, and the person who wants to crawl under his covers and escape the day by dreaming more, has neglected to see the beautiful value in his dreams. For, you see, dreams can’t, and shouldn’t, replace reality. Instead, they make reality richer and fuller. Dreams show us something of impossibility—and this is a precious gift to us when we awake, because believing in the impossible is the stuff of hope—and it is hope which carries us triumphantly through our day.