I Need to Tell You About My Dream the Other Night

Vincent Yu

Did you ever have a dream that was fun and entertaining and made perfect sense in the moment? Then you woke up and said, What the hell was that about?

That’s what has so intrigued me so long about dreams. They occur suspended in a world of unconsciousness untethered by reason and logic, unpredictable and therefore intriguing. And mostly delightful, at least for me.

I’ve had dreams that were turning scary, I thought. So I said, ‘Oh, this is just a dream.’ And I woke up.

But when you awaken, if you can remember much at all, the visions make no sense whatsoever. Imagine describing them to someone. “So, this big snake came out with my boss’ face and he started talking about the World Series and….” Nah, give it up.

Unless you’ve studied such things for their symbolisms. I knew a shrink many years ago who had patients keep a notepad by their bed to jot down even just fragments of their dreams come morning.

That’s because dreams melt away so quickly in daylight, as the dream gods want to protect their symbolic secrets from your awake mind.

That psychiatrist then used those fragments as suggested mental paths to explore at the next session. He found most fragments did indeed lead to productive sessions with insights.

I have friends who have nightmares about the mumbler from Delaware and the awful things he’s pulling on the country. Not me. Yet.

You probably did not know that I can fly in some dreams. They’re all CGI-enhanced now. (The clouds even feel moist on the face.) I have walked away safely from a few slow-motion plane crashes. I’ve wandered all over this one vast old hotel with endless marble floors and wedding receptions behind closed doors, unsuccessfully seeking something. Sometimes on roller blades.

Maybe my suitcase was missing. I don’t remember exactly what I was seeking, except I kept ending up on the same floor after a while, though the elevators were always full.

Since psychiatrists are way too expensive these days, I turn to free Google searches of dream symbols.

There, I will find 115,232 confusing results in 0.312 seconds. The results usually sound like those newspaper horoscopes with Jupiter waning that are so very carefully phrased they could mean anything. “This year, you succeed in your brilliant endeavor with a bit more diplomacy than usual. If single, you must drop your guard to let someone in.”

My online missing baggage symbol search revealed that I’ve lost something or someone dear recently, I will lose something or someone dear soon, or I should not fly on United.

I’ve often had dreams where my family was all ready to leave for the airport, but I was unable to fit everything in my suitcase. Over and over. Even when I took stuff out. Everyone grew impatient.

Or wait! That incident may have been real. I think.

When I was young – about 10, I think – I had a scary dream that involved chasing a departing passenger train on a rural stretch of track with no other way out. That will show you how long ago it was. Thankfully, just in time I was awakened to get ready for the school bus.

The next night the very same dream picked up right where it had left off. That dreamy precision only happened once. But it’s OK. I did catch up with the train. Years later, I was chasing a press bus in a huge St. Louis parade following the Olympic torch across Missouri. Oh, no, that chase was real.

One time I was in rural Minnesota but late for my plane back to somewhere. I drove like a possessed person to the airport, returned the rental car, caught the terminal bus, raced through the terminal and security and got to the distant gate just as they were closing the door.

I sat on the plane, breathless and sweaty, and realized what an insane, stupid thing I had just done. There were planes every hour. That was the last time I ran to catch anything. For real.

The most recent dream involved planes too. Seems to be a pattern emerging here, doesn’t it? I asked Google what airplane dream symbols mean and someone I suspect in India answered unhelpfully:

After the collapse, airplanes are a symbol of civilization. They represent the connectivity of the technologically advanced, pre-collapse modern world. In the immediately aftermath, people would look towards the sky, hopeful of seeing planes flying overhead.

That nonsense sounds like a description of parts of my dreams.  They are so very real at the time. But puzzlingly nonsensical afterwards. I only got pieces down on the pad before the recent dream melted.

But I was in the cockpit of a giant aircraft. We were flying over Shanghai, where I’ve never been but I’ve seen pictures of the impressive waterfront all lit up.

The pilot was a very friendly man who banked the plane over downtown so I could see. He was explaining to me in great detail about all the lighted gauges, which I didn’t think he was supposed to do.

So later, I had to be very careful to protect him when describing the flight. That was important. Also, I had no luggage to lose. Also important.

Now, about those slow-motion plane crashes in Dolby vision….