A recent conversation I was having reminded me of an old, recurring dream of mine. It's funny, but to this day, I vividly remember a dream that I used to have somewhat regularly in my young childhood. When I was 3-5 years old, it was quite common, and it continued, with decreasing frequency, into my teens.
In The Dream, I was being squeezed - my entire body, but my head and shoulders most especially. The thing that was squeezing me (it was never clear what it was) was - how shall I say it - soft and firm at the same time. I recall that, in my childish imagination, I likened it to 'wheels', because it reminded me of the way pneumatic tires are simultaneously soft and firm. In The Dream, I would feel the squeezing coming on, and it would get tighter and tighter as The Dream progressed, becoming, by the time The Dream ended, quite uncomfortable, and I would be wondering how tight it might get, and whether I was going to be utterly squashed. The Dream invariably ended with my awaking, breathing heavily.
Having said that, The Dream was not at all unpleasant, and it became sort-of comfortingly familiar, even if a bit anxiety-raising. Whenever it would arise again, I recall thinking happily to myself, 'Ah, here comes that dream about the 'wheels' again. . .' And, as uncomfortable as I was by the end of the dream, I was always cautiously glad whenever it came around again.
As I said, that Dream recurred, with decreasing frequency, into my high school years; I don't recall having it since then. Occasionally, I would wonder what it was about. One of my college buddies was fascinated by the idea of Freudian interpretation of dreams, but I don't recall that he had any particular insight into that one. At some point, my memories of The Dream just didn't rise into my conscious thoughts very often anymore.
Then, sometime after I was reunited with my birth-mother, I remembered The Dream again (I didn't suddenly start having The Dream again, I just remembered it). That memory, and its timely recurrence into my consciousness, brought a plausible interpretation rushing into my mind.
Was it possible - was it possible - that I was dreaming of my own birth?
It seems at least plausible, doesn't it? Has anyone ever heard of anything like this?
In the conversation to which I was referring at the beginning of this post, I was talking with a couple of my kids, and one of them was wondering if babies in the womb are conscious and aware of their surroundings, and I said that I was sure they were. We talked about studies where microphones were placed inside a mother's uterus (Lord, have mercy; the things we'll do for 'science'), and the surprising clarity of the sounds from 'the outside world'.
I opined that the babies themselves didn't undergo some kind of 'ontological' transformation for the simple fact of moving from inside the womb to outside it, that their brains, and eyes and ears, were quite the same an hour before birth as they were an hour after it. And then I remembered my Dream, and I wondered if it really might constitute some kind of 'subconscious memory' of my own passage through my birth-mother's birth canal, of my own transition from 'inner space' to the big, wide Universe.
Does that make me crazy?
This post reminds me of something I posted a year ago, on the occasion of my father's death. It's actually taken from a review I wrote on Amazon of a book by Peter Kreeft, Love Is Stronger Than Death. I'll re-post it here, just for the sake of completing my thought. . .
Kreeft is wonderfully perceptive, and draws some really sharp insights. For instance, he notes the double meaning in saying that death is the 'end' of life - both its termination, but also its consummation (or even its 'goal'). "If death is not meaningful, then life, in the final analysis, is not meaning-full. For death is the final analysis...Life cannot be meaningful in the short run and meaningless in the long run, because the long run is the meaning of the short run."
He draws an analogy between death and birth that is acutely perceptive. A child in the womb is warm and secure, and outside the womb is - he knows not what (although he might have some inklings of the 'world beyond' - muffled voices and such). Birth is a painful thing, and yet he is born into a world infinitely wider and richer than the womb; he is infinitely freer in the 'outside world' than he was in the womb, and he spends his entire life 'growing into' this larger, richer world. Even so, we are comfortable in this world, and at any rate, this world is all we know (although we might have inklings of a 'world beyond'). Death, like birth, involves pain. Is it possible that death, like birth, brings us into a wider, richer, freer existence than we have here?
And, as the child in the womb draws his life from his mother, he can't SEE his mother, much less KNOW her AS A PERSON until he is born. Is it possible that, just as, in this world, we can't see God, death brings us into a new relationship with Him ("then we shall see face-to-face")?
Of course, we can't know for certain. But the analogies are at least intensely provocative, don't you think? . . .