The bad dream now is of standing in a classroom and having to teach a lesson to a class of unfamiliar students. I do not know who the students are, not have I anything prepared. What am I going to say to them? It is a relief to wake and find I am not in a classroom, that the accusing eyes of the students have disappeared.
Sometimes having no dreams at all would seem desirable, a deep and dreamless sleep free of disturbing thoughts that linger long after waking.
Perhaps bad dreams vary from person.
Had I paid more attention to psychology textbooks thirty years ago, I might have understood the underlying problem, but then, again, I might not. Freud’s work seemed about as verifiable as most theology; if you bought into it, then it explained everything. If you thought he was possibly a troubled man with an overactive imagination, whose theories did not stand up to the sort of rigorous testing that would be applied to physical sciences, then there were grounds to doubt much of what he said.
Theories that say one thing proves the case and that another, contradictory thing also proves the case, are as scientific as the suggestion that God’s existence can be proven by him answering prayers, or by him not answering the same prayers.
Freud seems to start out with a theory and then to search for facts to fit the theory; like many preachers whom I knew, I suppose.
Friends’ bad dreams have generally seemed similar to my own – turning over exam papers to see questions in a subject they have never studied, or being late for an appointment and not being able to find the way, or being improperly dressed at a public gathering, or being trapped and not able to cry out for help.
One evening in 1993, I nearly missed the last Belfast-bound flight out of Heathrow, the delays on the Tube and rush to the plane, which I had been closed, left me with palpitations. For years afterwards, I had a recurring dream that I was in Croydon, south of London, and had to get a flight from Heathrow, west of London, in an hour’s time. It was an odd dream to have because I have never been in Croydon in my life.
Dreams are strange things, bad dreams are even stranger. Waking up is much safer. Real life lessons are much preferable.