Years ago, I was in a class at Queen Margaret University College (now simply Queen Margaret University, and with a drama department that’s been gutted, compared to the years I spent at the now-closed Gateway Theater campus) called “Experimental Writing.” It was aimed more at those on our course who were focusing on theatrical disciplines that weren’t writing, so those of us who were on the writing track were asked to try and find something new to experiment with.
I chose illustrations. I’m not an artist, but every so often I find myself drawing strange little pen drawings, and in this case I wrote a short piece about dreaming then used Photoshop to put together a set of illustrated pages.
The story is called “When Did I Stop Dreaming,” and the images show off how much I am not an illustrator. But the class was about going out of your creative comfort zone. This was pretty far out of my comfort zone.
I read enough about science and the brain to know that we dream every night, multiple times a night, and that the question is less whether we’ve stopped dreaming than whether we remember what we’ve dreamt.
When I remember them, my dreams are incredible. They boil down the complications in my life to their most basic questions, then pose those questions in ways that illuminate choices that lead to improved mental health, improved environmental satisfaction, and seeing options I may have been clouding for myself, before. And yet, for at least four or five years, memories of dreams have been few and far between.
What I have far more regularly than dreams is trouble sleeping. Transitioning from the hectic pace of the city to the subdued peace of unconsciousness is difficult, and often takes me hours. It’s also a process that’s easily disrupted – by emotions, by interruptions, by thoughts.
Falling asleep takes discipline.
A couple months ago, a run of insomnia and a fluke neuron firing had me searching YouTube for sleep hypnosis videos.
I stumbled across a channel run by a woman named Jody Whitley, and decided to give one of her videos a shot – I don’t remember which one it was. Sleep hypnosis for pain. Sleep hypnosis for depression. For weight loss. For lucid dreaming. Something.
Lucid dreaming sounded really f*cking cool, and the other topics didn’t sound too bad, either.
Now, I’m not going to get into the efficacy of hypnosis because frankly I don’t know anything at all about it. And I don’t really care, because the videos I’ve listened to from the channel have put me to sleep every time.
More importantly, I’ve started remembering my dreams again.