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AFTERIMAGE

Dreamed 1983/8/8 by Chris Wayan

THAT EVENING

Curious about the growth of my dreams this year, I chart them like stocks. How many pages of dream material per night? I find distinct waves building up to spectacular spikes five to seven days long, then abrupt dropoffs. I wonder what causes that? Do I hit issues I'm afraid of, or are these recall-peaks just not sustainable? At the beach, waves crest and collapse--maybe that's natural for dream-waves too.

chart of nightly dream recall
THAT NIGHT

I'm biking around, still pondering what causes the abrupt dropoffs in my dreams.

I pass what looks like a dead firecracker from Independence Day a month ago. Suddenly... BANG! Its blast is loud enough to sting my eyes and hurt my ears.

I wake up--and find, to my astonishment, that I have all the physical after-effects of a real firecracker. Faint smell in my nostrils, I'm deafened and my ears ring, my head aches, and weirdest of all perhaps, my eyes have AFTERIMAGES of the explosion! Even if someone had tossed a real firecracker in my bedroom and deafened me, my eyes were shut--I wouldn't have seen the cracker exploding.

Afterimage left on my retina from the flash of an explosion in a dream. Crayon sketch by Wayan.

THAT MORNING

I knew dreams could do odd things, but leave afterimages on my retina?!

Slowly I realize the dream had symbolic meaning, too. I asked what causes sudden dropoffs just when I'm really dreaming powerfully. And the dream answered me: I'm blinded by the dazzle! Just too much. Not psychological avoidance or an emotional overload; dreaming for me is so real it physically affects me. Powerful shamanic dreaming is like a marathon athletic effort! I need time to physically recover from vivid dreaming--for until I've recovered from the explosion, I'm fried. The dropoff isn't a failure of nerve, any more than the depletion of rhodopsin in my retina is, after being blinded by a bright flash. It's physical.

Whether dreams are real for others is irrelevant. They can burn my retinas. They have that much power. I have to treat them as real.

And rest up after real tasks, real risks... real adventures.



LISTS AND LINKS: dreams on dreams - sleep and dream research - metabolism - violent dreams - explosions - light - dreams leaving physical traces - shamanic dreams - crayon and pastel

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