Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dreamin'. . .

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? . . .


  1. before i got to the freudian roommate or the reunion with your birth-mother i was thinking the dream was about birth. then again i was the kid who used to wonder aloud in waking hours what it felt like for the baby. yeah, lots of people thought i was strange for pondering that one. my mother,being the literalist she is, said to imagine being taken from a warm bathtub, dripping wet, into a snowstorm. that only gave me before and after. i wanted to know about the transition process.

  2. "Does that make me crazy?"

    Nah, it was quite evident long before we-all read this ;)

    It does seem plausible that it is a memory of sorts though many argue that even early childhood memories are not 'real'. I have some early memories that my family disputes but there's no disputing that what I remember is accurate, they're just skeptical that I really remember. You know, someone must have told me the stories. Interestingly enough all those who would have been able to tell me know that they didn't but also double as chief skeptics.

    But I totally agree with the inference that we are as defined by death as we are by life.

  3. I'm with Lime in that I was pretty sure where it was headed. And it make perfect sense to me.

    As for what Xavier says about kids memories being real. I don't have anyone around who can dispute my memories of early childhood, except my twin cousin, and her remembers pretty much what I remember about that stuff. So it's unanimous.

    When I meet up with all of those older relatives in the hereafter, the first thing I'm going to say is, "I told you so."

  4. Lime - So maybe I'm not crazy? Your comment made me smile, actually. That two adoptees' brains would want to process the birth process (whether consciously or unconsciously). . .

    Xavier - I think there was a thing years ago with 'recovered memories' (often of bizarre sexual abuse) that got a lot of innocent people sent to jail, and got a bad name for childhood memories more generally. . .

    Skip - Was I that obvious? ;)

    You know, my earliest conscious memories are from when I was about two years old, and they're pretty 'impressionistic' - like mental snapshots of an event. By the time I was four or five, my memories are more detailed. But the idea that I would have dreamt about my own birth just seems simultaneously strange and WAY cool. . .

  5. Now now, don't cross over into 'recovered memories', that's another subject entirely. Done a bit of research (um, based on an alleged event) and found that those are more on the lines of 'coerced memories'. The techniques used for those 'recovered memories' for the most part suggested/created false memories rather than coaxing out real ones. Trust me, that's an entirely diff thing than what we speak of here. I hope.

  6. Xavier - Thanks for clarifying, and sorry for my confusion.

    Of course, I'm not even talking here about a 'real' memory, just a memory of a dream, that may or may not have had a foothold in reality. But if it did, it's really cool. . .

  7. Crazy? No. Imaginative? Yeah (and that's a good thing.)

    Since it's "just" a dream, who's to say if you have it sussed out perfectly or not? No reason why it couldn't be about your birth. Then again, maybe somebody was sneaking into your room and squeezing your head each night.

  8. Suldog - Well, as dreams go (at least MY dreams), this one was pretty, uh, prosaic. I've had others that were like something out of a 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds' video montage. Now THOSE were fun. . .

    You make a good point. I mean, my dad had very large, well-developed hands. . .

  9. I've usually concluded that my dreams represent something going on in my life. Not sure what being squeezed is about!

  10. Bijoux - So, I take it you're skeptical of my 'Birth Dream' hypothesis?

  11. I totally do think it could be some sort of inherent remembrance of your birth experience.

    It is possible that I have a sort of similar impression left with me. Different, but yet somehow I feel it's tied to some in-utero/early memory thing.

  12. Flutter - OK, now that's a story that needs to be told. . .

  13. OK oh great interpreter of dreams, my latest occasional recurrent involves me exploring 'my' new house, a huge thing not unlike the Munsters or Adam's family mansions: broken down, dusty, webby. Best part is that it is interconnected with a huge but mostly empty barn. Much of the dream involves me trying to create a map of safe areas in the twin structures but finding that a second or third visit to any room/area finds it completely reconfigured causing me to have to furiously re-draw the map. Then several men try to chase me but the floor keeps falling away behind me as I run.

    The dream always ends in me being led away in handcuffs after a hollywood style cut-away. Alas, no comforting squeezing sensation.

  14. Xavier - 'Great Interpreter of Dreams'?? What do you take me for - Joseph?

    But, your recent economic history is suggestive of a certain, uh, instability, and I could understand how you might feel, uh, captive to circumstances beyond your control. . .

    Just, you know, off the top of my head. . .

  15. Could be true, it started somewhere around the first time I was given a tentative lay-off date at Huuge Inc many years ago and has popped up on the hit parade a couple times a year since ....

    So, do you prefer Joey or Joseph??? ;)