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    Notes on dream memory

    by , 06-16-2015 at 09:20 PM (673 Views)
    I just woke from a night that was thick, rich, dense with dreaming, but the recall was scattered and sparse, which makes me ponder the nature of dream memory. After this last waking, I lay there for some minutes without being able to remember a single thing, not one detail, yet I knew for certain that I had been dreaming. This is a peculiar state of mind, the ultimate experience of ambiguity. I lay back down on the bed sideways across the covers so that I would not accidentally fall asleep again, and then let my mind drift, looking for the particulars. At first it seemed hopeless, like groping through mud, until through some mysterious process a tiny detail took shape...

    ...near my new house, a stream full of fish, all sizes and varieties...

    That detail links to more images and events, and then there all are, as vivid as life, all those memories that had seemed to be lost, and might have never been recovered had I not taken the time to seek them...

    ...I look forward to fishing, catching my own dinner... is the water clean enough? I need a fishing pole, I can buy one right now on Amazon, I'm sure they sell them, it will be here in two days... or is this the sort of thing I should buy in person? find a sporting goods store, feel the weight and balance in my hands first, try out the cast...

    ...and finally I'll have somewhere to shoot my bow! so nice to have space again.... but my bow and target are still in my old house, I won't have them until we complete the move... guess I'll have to be patient...

    ...a bit concerned about the neighbors, though, that father yelling at his children, hitting them with tires, and so openly, right in the yard! should I call and report? but surely someone has tried before, and nothing has changed. I walk back that way and he's still at it, now they're all carrying tires, all four or five children, and he's still hitting them, yelling "we don't put wood in the house!" what does that mean? all houses have wood in them, it's a basic building material... I should inquire with the other neighbors, something has to be done... at least my house is across the stream, away from here, secluded in the woods...

    And this reminds me of yet another dream...

    ...the two boys were living in such a house, alone in an open field, only woods on all sides. the old man must have been living off the grid, so no one knew when he died, and they quietly took over the house... his guests become his heirs... what did they do with the body, bury it in the yard? and then the seclusion let them build their operations, what was it, computers? what were they trying to accomplish... still can't remember...

    And another...

    ...but before that we were looking for someone, an uncle?...can't just "lose" someone these days, not unless they don't want to be found... it takes a lot of care not to show up on the internet, to avoid social media entirely. the only clue we had was a partial bag of english muffins, not sure what that can prove, but then I wonder if the city where it was purchased is printed on the bottom... sure enough it is... but it is the name of my own city! is he here, or is this not even the right bag?

    And so on... from no memories at all, to more than are worth writing down.

    What would have happened to those memories if I hadn't taken the trouble to consciously retrieve them? What happens to all the memories of the dreams we don't remember, or have forgotten? Is there a kind of deep storage? I think there must be, because from time to time they come swimming up in flashes, like fish catching the light near the surface...

    ....a gleam of light against the wall of the building across from us, like a tile of glass catching the sun... Arya isn't paying attention, I catch her eye and direct her toward it with my own... she looks the wrong way and I have to pantomime the gaze even more cartoonishly before she sees it... we are under observation and can't speak aloud... but at last she sees the gleam and we go over to find out what it is... I think it is magic itself, these signals... this isn't the first... but is it directed by a person or inherent in the world, plot, fate? we climb the stairs inside the building and open the door at the very top... with satisfaction I perceive it is a magical goods store, and actually tell the lady proprietor what brought us there... perhaps she or something she sells here can assist us in our predicament...

    That was yet another from last night, where my own turn of phrase, "catching the light," caught the memory. But often I'll be sitting around doing things in waking life and apparently random glimpses will surface of dreams I know I had years ago, probably ones I never even wrote down, yet in some obscure way they still shadow me. Where and what are memories when we're not remembering them? Dream memory feels like it is stored separately from waking life memory, which would make sense if we need to distinguish the two to maintain sanity. But maybe that sense of separateness only comes because dream memories do not fit into the established contexts of ordinary life... at least for me, where dreams and waking life have so few qualities in common.

    There are people who hardly remember their dreams at all... are those dream memories buried inside them as if in some secret vault? Could some odd balance of brain chemicals unlock it, bring them all flooding back, the dreams of a lifetime?
    NyxCC likes this.

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    1. NyxCC's Avatar
      Good job bringing those memories back! Love your thoughts on the process of recall and experiences during the day.

      About a month ago, something similar happened to me. I woke up with absolutely zero recall, and contrary to other times I couldn't reach for anything - no image, no feeling nothing. It was one of the days for the DV competition, so I needed to recall something to get points, so on this occasion, instead of relaxing, I tensed up mentally. I wish I had taken more notes then about the process. And suddenly the images started coming. But this is not all that happened. This extraordinary amount of effort in that morning had repercussions the entire day. I was getting dream flashes and memory flashes throughout the day. It was amazing.

      Alas, I was not able to recreate the precise procedure - the particular effort I exterted then. But hopefully one day will do it again and explore those memories.
      Verre likes this.
      Updated 06-17-2015 at 12:54 AM by NyxCC
    2. Verre's Avatar
      So you're saying it was a certain kind of mental tension, not relaxation, that helped your recall on that occasion? That is very interesting... worth experimenting with to try to develop the technique!

      To date, relaxation has worked best for me (sometimes I get a burst of dream memories unexpectedly when I'm in the shower) and when I try too hard to remember I tend to feel like a dog chasing its tail. But maybe if we can learn to flex just the right mental muscles... it would be fantastic to have a technique like that.
      NyxCC likes this.
    3. NyxCC's Avatar
      So you're saying it was a certain kind of mental tension, not relaxation, that helped your recall on that occasion?
      Precisely! Very strange indeed. I like your analogy to muscle flexing, perhaps this is what I did, flexed the right brain area so to speak. Must try to replicate that after one of these empty headed wakes.

      Apart from that, I agree that relaxation works really well for recall. I also have good results if I meditate right after waking up. Helps bring back quite a few details. I use a sort of gazing meditation usually.
      Verre likes this.