I've always been a dreamer. I don't mean that I'm wistfully ambitious, I mean I dream - every night - complex, colourful dreams, packed full of symbolism and metaphors, because that's the way my brain works. I've always thought of my dreams as a way of processing the things that maybe I don't want to face consciously, but whilst I sleep, I'm able to unpack them and subconsciously sort through them and then file or dump them.
So it's no surprise that, following such a big change in my life as a transatlantic move, my dreams have taken a bit of an unusual turn. Each night throws up something different- full of images from my past or clues to what my future might be. In last night's dream, for example, my teeth did not fit inside my head. Instead, they were loose and uncomfortably clashing and grinding. Apparently, this is quite a common dream to have during times of change.
Throughout my life, I've had a selection of recurring dreams, these include: losing my car in a multi storey car-park, travelling in a plane that flies very slowly and mere feet from the ground, and discovering an additional upper room or storey in my house that needs renovation. But perhaps the one that comes around most often is the 'lion' dream. The place varies, but wherever I am, there is a huge, menacing lion prowling around. There is almost always just a single (usually damaged or inadequate) door between myself and the lion and I frantically search for more effective barriers. These dreams have cycled quietly through my unconscious mind for years, cryptically signposting me towards my deep fears and anxieties. Or maybe I just watch too many DIY and nature shows?
I'm not particularly into dream interpretation and I know that the brain is a complex thing that we still know so little about, but as a Christian, I've often felt that my dreams were God's way of guiding me through things or towards things. The Bible has a lot to say about dreams and how God speaks to us through them or uses them for guidance, comfort and instruction. So I'm interested to know what He's trying to tell me with this latest crop of nocturnal narratives.
Just recently, there's been a new recurring dream on the bedtime block. Back when I was working as a teacher, I would occasionally have 'stress' dreams where I couldn't find my classroom. I would frantically search never-ending corridors only to come to frustrating dead-ends. An alternative ending would be that I find the class, but don't have my lesson materials or I just haven't prepared. That one's not hard to analyse. But over the last couple of weeks, I've started to dream a different version altogether. In these teaching dreams I'm standing in front of a class of students, I'm prepared, the lesson is going well, I clearly love my students and they are enjoying the lesson. This dream captures everything I loved about teaching. It has a rose-tinted rating.
So the question is, what does this dream mean? Am I just missing teaching? Is this something I'm supposed to go back to? Or should I just enjoy the memory of it and file it away in the brain drawer marked 'stuff I've done'. Whatever's going on in my subconscious, my American dreams have been pretty epic so far and have certainly been part of my coping mechanism for the massive change we've undergone. Who knows what tonight's instalment will bring... the lion, the teeth or the classroom?