One of the many interesting things about dreams is that we can, in our imagination, be miles or even galaxies or decades away from our beds, yet still have our external environment mess with things. We’re aware of our surroundings even as we’re fully absorbed in the story our unconscious has concocted.
The other night, I had an anxious dream just before waking. While working in some nondescript office, I was trying like mad to get the many printers and faxes working properly. Just as I thought I had one cleared of its imaginary jam (just as often happens in real life, the machine insisted there was a fault despite my inability to find it), another would start beeping annoyingly. So there I was, racing from machine to machine, trying to stop the noise.
Immediately upon waking, I realized there was a very easy way to stop the beeps. All I had to do was hit the snooze button on my cell phone’s alarm! The beeping ringtone the alarm clock app had chosen for its sound was the selfsame beep the machines in my dream were making.
When you think about it, this astounding ability to keep track of our surroundings even while asleep makes sense in evolutionary terms. If a predator could sneak up and devour us while we lay dreaming, completely oblivious to the outer world, we wouldn’t have lasted long as a species.
But mostly, the alarm clock so cleverly disguising itself in my unconscious as the complaints of malfunctioning office equipment just amused me. If you have a similar story of the real world invading a dream, I’d love to hear it in the comments! Continue reading