Evolving Dream Themes
When I was a very small child, perhaps even a baby, I remember that my dreams were just white. That white became a large empty room, and that room slowly filled up with red shelves and a long bench-style desk. Over time, the shelves accumulated increasingly large amounts of objects, one of which I remember was a rubber duck. Eventually the room was peopled and quite a long while after that, one of the peoples was me. This dream place looked a lot like a TV set for an 80’s children’s show. The earliest dream I can remember — in which anything meaningful happened — is when I was 2 or 3 years old and I was playing with my Fisher Price Chatter Phone. It started ringing and when I answered — it was Worzel Gummidge. He was calling me to inform me that he had just killed my nan. As he was speaking, I could see his horrifying, spittle-drenched face. I can’t remember whether I woke up in a sweat from that dream or not, I wasn’t even particularly fond of my nan, but I certainly was effing terrified of Worzel Gummidge.
Since this time I have always been fascinated and amazed by dreaming. I learned as a kid to control my dreams and to choose what I wanted to dream about. I learned how to control my dreams after a long time of having recurrent nightmares of being chased. These dreams would present with infinitely shifting sinister characters and they were always frightening and exhausting. In the final dream of this type, I was being chased by Transformers. I had found the perfect spot to hide — in a boat under a tarpaulin. My dream logic told me that this was truly the most incredible hiding spot and that only I knew where I was, this was definite. Well, when the Transformers ripped the tarpaulin off of me I had an epiphany — the Transformers were me. I never had that sort of chasing dream again.
I’m not sure exactly how old I was when I had the first experience of dream ecstasy. I was primary school age and I dreamed that I was a black cat, sitting on a rocking chair. But this dream had the most incredible quality to it. It was utter bliss. I could feel every atom of my catbeing, my sleeping human body rushed with this brimming-over sensation of ineffable liquid joy. As a cat I didn’t do very much, apart from look at the exquisite pads of my paw and shiver, but I felt as though I was experiencing everything in the universe all at once.
Around this time I started to choose what I wanted to dream about before I went to bed. I conceived the idea of the ‘Dream Helmet’ — this was an imaginary cap I put on before bed, with an imaginary knob on it that I could turn to have any dream I wanted to. It lived in an imaginary cupboard next to my bed and putting it on every night became my ritual. In this way I chose my dreams and ended up creating a good deal of continuity between them. I began to inhabit a dream world and I could draw detailed maps of it. In this other world I had dream memories of parallel dream lives. Sometimes I could tear the fabric of the dream reality apart like tissue paper, I could rise up in the morning through six or seven layers of dreams within dreams. I loved my dream world. There was a beach of sinking sand, over which a cable car travelled, there was a velvet underground and shopping centre, there was a low stone bridge under which a poisonous angel fish lived, a ruined temple in the sea, there was an underwater pier and fairground, an old cobbled medieval street, endless green hills through which a train travelled to China, there was a small hut with big butler sinks full of flat fish, a school on the edge of a jungle and oh my Ahura Mazda! — the configurations of zoos with barely contained wild animals! Later there was the sacred spring that offered me the Water of Life. The Water of Life has always been my most consistent and favourite dream theme. On the nights when I drink of it, I wake up feeling revived and illuminated.