by Ashley Lister
I dream. But I don’t remember my dreams.
Actually, that’s not true. That’s just the official stance I take on the subject when someone asks me about my dreams. Nowadays, I always say, “I dream, but I don’t remember my dreams.” In truth, I have to hold my hand up and admit that I don’t dream. But please, don’t worry about me. I’m OK.
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about their dreams. They sound interesting. Whenever they ask me about my dreams, and I’ve said I don’t dream, they tell me, “No. It’s not that you don’t dream. It’s just you don’t remember your dreams.”
This is, of course, bollocks. Just because I don’t remember something, doesn’t mean that it happened and I’ve forgotten it. This is like saying I have three arms, but I’ve never noticed the third one because it’s on my back in a place where I can’t see it.
I don’t remember being on the NYT bestseller list. Is this because I’ve never been on the NYT bestseller list, or because I don’t remember being on there? I don’t remember having gratuitous and orgiastic sex with the entire cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Is this because it never happened, or because I don’t remember it happening?
I can’t accept that ‘I’ve forgotten’ something, every morning, for the last forty years of my life. It’s more credible to simply accept the most likely explanation: I don’t dream. Yet some people believe, if I claim not to dream, that I’m either lying or I’m showing the typical symptoms of someone with a mental illness.
Honestly. I’m OK about not dreaming. I don’t feel as though I’m missing anything. In fact, I’m probably enjoying a better night’s rest than the dreamers of this world because I’m getting a full three hours sleep every night, uninterrupted by a surreal movie show from the unhinged depths of my own twisted imagination.
I take exception to the suggestion that I’m a psychopath because I don’t dream. The ‘experts’ who nod sagely, and tell me that it’s only psychopaths who don’t dream, are (again) talking bollocks. Psychopaths (I’m talking here about the criminally insane who star in slasher flicks) are renowned (in the movies) for wielding chainsaws and machetes and making short work of their victims. There are few films about psychopaths where potential victims are warned, “Beware of that man: he doesn’t dream!”
If it’s true that all psychopaths don’t dream, and I’m not sure that is true, then I still think this is merely an incidental detail. It’s suggestive of flawed logic to diagnose psychopathic tendencies simply because a person doesn’t dream. Just because all herring are fish, doesn’t mean all fish are herring.
My wife dreams. She dreams quite vividly and actively. There have been many nights when I’ve been woken by a punch to my arm (or other vulnerable areas) because she’s been battling an adversary in her dreams.
One morning she awoke, leaned over me, and then yanked so hard on my beard I actually squealed. She explained, in her dream, there had been a robot who looked just like me. She was pulling my beard to make sure I wasn’t a robot. I mention this just to illustrate that, in a situation where she wrenches half my face off to prove I’m not a robot: outside observers to the situation would say I’m the one with potential mental issues because I DON’T dream.
To help with my wife’s dreaming issues, I’ve since shaved and lost the beard. To help with my own dreaming issues, I now smile and simply say: Yes, I dream. But I don’t remember my dreams.
It makes life easier.