To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub.
And it tends to be the rubbing that keeps me from the dreaming. Let me explain. And get your mind out of the gutter for Pete’s sake.
At the end of a long day, there is nothing I look forward to more than closing up shop, crawling beneath the covers and turning out the light to welcome sleep—and it’s oftentimes one of the most entertaining parts of any twenty-four hours. But it’s not just the snoozing part that’s so engaging, but rather the movie reel that starts up upon giving in to unconsciousness.
Except … a few things tend to get in the way of that absorbing experience.
1. The cat.
2. The cat.
3. And oh yes, the cat.
There’s all this fuss that happens down at the bottom of the bed where my finicky, fault-finding furball insists upon setting up her midnight shop. Her nightly ablutions are hardly a muted affair. And all that business keeps me from falling into an otherworldly locus of illusion.
I love that place.
It is rich and restorative, mythic and impractical, and a source I rely upon like water and air and Oprah.
Sleep—in particular the part of sleep that allows one to dream—is an achievement I do not take lightly, and practice with the devotion of an Olympian.
Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s not a revealing statement that suggests my aim in life is to compete for the gold in the category of best Napping Nelly in the supine division. Not entirely. But the 7.5 hours I apply to cultivating this skill nightly is an activity I devote my whole brain and body to. And you might too if you dreamed like I do.
My dreams are not just snippets of faces, conversations or the occasional experience of flying and falling. They are chapters of many ongoing stories with the same characters and an actual plot line.
The disturbing thing is that I’m the author of said characters and plot lines, and occasionally I find some wonky, huddling conclave my brain develops where everyone I write about spews their opinions, making wisecracks about what a proper load of codswollop I’ve made with their tales. I’m sure there are sections of my brain that if autopsied would have forensic scientists wondering how that handful of goop that looks like week-old cake batter managed to find its way in.
I’m pretty sure this is the part that I’m working with in the wee hours of the night.
It’s fluid. And I kinda like it like that.
I specifically work hard at following a storyline of interest as soon as I close my eyes, running a groove into it that’s both familiar and happy to take over on autopilot. If all goes according to my mental master plan, I continue on unconsciously. Of course, if the cat has a stretch of fur that is particularly polluted, all that licking gets in the way of the narrative and ensuing arc of the story.
And then I find all the folks in my dream are coughing up hairballs. And I wake up cranky.
We spend nearly a third of our lives unconscious (although I’m sure we all know people who wander through theirs never fully fast on the draw even while operating their daily heavy machinery) and I understand the importance of that period of restoration. Yes, there’s a lot of biological activity taking place: muscles recovering, internal organs repairing, our brain unraveling the many befuddling Gordian knots we pushed to the side during the day, and we allow the internal keeper of cognizance—our brain’s personal secretary—to begin the process of sorting through and filing all the memories we just made that day.
It’s exhausting work. And must be done. Even at the expense of the cat’s nightly purification rituals.
It’s crucial I reach the REM stage of my evening’s training program because without it occurring, I drift about the next day barely able to recall where my desk is located, let alone its function and purpose.
Did you know that although a cow can sleep standing up, they can only dream when lying down?
Did you know that whales and dolphins only allow one-half of their brains to fall asleep at a time because the other half is needed to keep them swimming and breathing?
WHY CAN’T I DO THAT??
This might prove ideal, as at least with this scenario, I’d be able to still utilize the opportunity to dream. I’m assuming the cat does not recognize the importance or necessity of allowing me to dream. But perhaps I could set up a short power point presentation that could illustrate key figures in history whose dreams were vital to the world as we know it.
I will show her a picture of:
Mohammad (That Night Journey dream was a biggie.)
Shakespeare (I’m pretty sure if he got stuck with any plot, he just made his characters dream something prophetic. How convenient.)
Dorothy Gale (This is purely self-explanatory, as I cannot imagine a world without Glinda.)
Abraham (Had his cat kept him from dreaming, a good chunk of the Bible might have been taking place in modern day Turkey.)
Mary Shelly (Thank you for Frankenstein.)
Robert Lewis Stevenson (Well done on Jekyll and Hyde.)
President Lincoln (Had he paid more attention to his dreams, he’d still be alive today. And I think we both know what I meant to say.)
Paul McCartney (Had this fellow not had a little REM, no one would be humming along tomorrow the melody of Yesterday.)
Martin Luther King (Yeah, that’s a lot of guilt to throw at a cat.)
So, ultimately, if there’s any hope of me making this list someday, I can foresee only one way out of my dilemma. I’m going to have to teach the cat to be a pig.
Sheesh … what a nightmare.
Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.
- 11 Shocking Facts about Dreams (http://www.omg-fact.com)
- Window Pain (http://www.simonscat.com)
- Cat Grooming–All your questions answered (http://www.cat.about.com)