Do you ever wake up and feel like you were so active in your sleep that maybe it’s the real world and your waking life is the dream? It’s been happening to me a lot lately. I usually cannot remember many details of the dreaming life, but I have the sense that it was very real.

This morning I awoke with that feeling. As I sit here typing now, I am grasping to remember what happened in my dream. It’s so close to my memory, yet so far away. I feel like I can almost touch it, and then it slips through my fingers.

Dreams are such a strange mechanism of our humanness. Even sleep is weird if you think about it. We lie down each night and let our minds slip into unconsciousness. It scares me sometimes when I sleep through loud noises like thunder. How could I be so out of it that I couldn’t hear that? Maybe it’s because I have slipped into another dimension.

I have a recurring dream that involves being in school — I think college, but it is not clearly defined. I haven’t been attending some of my classes. It’s the end of the semester and I’m trying to figure out how I can still pass these classes. The details vary from dream to dream, but they are all centered around the stress of trying to succeed with insurmountable odds stacked against me — odds that I have caused myself.

I found out recently that two of my sisters have the same recurring dream. AND — my dad does too! This revelation made me wonder if this type of dream is just so common that many of us have it or if there is something in our genes that makes it occur.

I have begun an unscientific investigation to find out. I asked my great uncle if he had the dream. He said he didn’t, but he also didn’t go to college so he thought maybe that was why. He did say that his dream life has been very active lately, too. He wakes up and can’t remember his dreams, but has the sense that he was very busy in his sleep.

My one sister who doesn’t have the dream — or at least hasn’t had it since being in college — said the only recurring dream that she has involves her teeth falling out. They are falling out because she is pushing them out with her tongue.

If you search the internet on “recurring dreams” there is no shortage of “information.” Although the sources are questionable in many cases, the evidence seems to point to the school dream being a common one. (Teeth falling out is also common.)

There are different opinions about what it all means — if anything at all. Several sites proclaim emphatically that recurring dreams are your subconscious trying to work through a problem. The school or “test” dream might indicate being uncertain about the next direction in one’s life. Or maybe it’s about needing to learn something that is difficult. Or maybe…

Whatever that particular dream means — or any other dream for that matter — the consensus from my cursory research was that there’s still much we don’t know about our dream lives. Maybe we never will. Or maybe one day we’ll wake up and realize that all of this has been a dream.

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Jennie Renner

Jennie Renner

I am an artist. Sometimes I use words to paint a picture. Sometimes I use images. And sometimes — I use both.