The Geography of Dreams

Image result for images of woodland path

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I dream of places that don’t exist. One of them I visited the other night. In the dreams–I’ve been there several times–there is no golf course and country club at the end of Main Steet. Instead, the street dissolves into woodland, with a path leading in. Your car might just about fit, but you’re better off walking or biking. That’s what I do.

By and by the woods thins out and off to one side is an old railroad cut, rarely used by trains. At the bottom, along both sides of the rails, run little streams full of salamanders, crayfish, and pollywogs. Farther along, the land spreads out into meadows and marshes. There’s a train station there, sometimes with a passenger or two waiting for the next train. Here we see ancient, abandoned railroad carts and other equipment peacefully weathering in the sun. We hear assorted shore and marsh birds calling. If you’re into catching turtles, this is a pretty good place for it.

And you’d be surprised who you might out here. The last time I came here, I wound up having a nice long chat with Father Brown (as played by Mark Williams), which regrettably had to come to an end when Father Brown’s  bishop came striding up the railroad track to demand that Father Brown get back to church.

I have another dreamscape which I visit sometimes. It’s a fictional arm of Raritan Bay that reaches miles inland, all the way to the adjacent town to mine. It’s nice for boating and fishing: very peaceful. All my dreamscapes are peaceful. No leaf blowers allowed.

I know these places aren’t real, and yet I could draw you detailed maps of them because I’ve been there so often.

Maybe, somewhere, they are real, after all.

16 comments on “The Geography of Dreams

  1. Surprisingly enough – or maybe not – I’ve lived in places that sound nearly exactly as you describe. Serene. Even the spring-fed crystal clear creeks with salamanders, pollywogs, crayfish. Although we lived in rural suburbia in my early teens, the landscape hadn’t yet been too badly damaged. And my uncle had 50 acres of mostly woods with creeks and small clearings. Your descriptions have brought me right back there.

  2. Your dreams are more real than a reality forgotten. (i’m contemplating briefly talking about a repetitive dream from my childhood, which still affects me, but which I need to make really brief before posting it. Be back…)

  3. Back. In my repetitive childhood dream, I’m riding on a Magic Carpet all around the world, seeing mountains, waterways, continents, and other wonders. Birds join me on my carpet, which eventually begins to lose altitude because of the weight of the birds. It then takes me to a train station, which I board, and looking out the window, I see everything – people, places and things – that i’ve ever seen in my short life. As I got older, the dream changed such that I would get off the train at certain points in order to try to change an event to make it better, the way I wanted it to turn out. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t. When it didn’t, my Magic Carpet would come back and pick me up again. Thanks for letting me post this – and for sharing yours which makes for an very enjoyable read, and for Linda’s vivid description of places in her life.

  4. I often have dreams where I’m in some building or place that visually is unrecognizable to me but at the same time I feel a strong sense of familiarity like I’ve lived there all my life. I sometimes wake up with a creepy feeling in my gut when I have these kind of dreams. Go figure.

  5. I read of one technique for falling asleep to overcome insomnia is to think about a house you lived in when young and imagine your bedroom in as much detail as possible, then move to the hallway, den, etc. This technique should work just as well for imagining one’s familiar dreamscape. Personally, I have no problem falling asleep at night.- its the getting up in the morning that is the test. I would take up coffee to help wake up but I can’t stand the stuff 🙂

    1. Placing yourself, mentally, in another setting helps you to forget about the cares of the day. For some reason, I’ve always found my mind wanting to think about being someplace where the weather was cold, but I was warm, either in a tent, a small building or, strangely enough, an airplane.

      But White Rabbit’s post may have helped to explain this. My childhood home was in a place where winter could be very cold and the west winds unrelenting in their fury. But my parent’s home was built well, made of masonry, and there was never any sort of draft. We were not very well off, but I can never remember a time that the house wasn’t warm and pleasant, even when it was -30 F.

      The tent, now makes sense, because I and my buddies used to camp in the front yard as early as April, sleeping comfortably in warm sleeping bags, even though the tent would be covered in frost, by morning.

      Airplanes? Gotta stretch it a bit, but I think it has to do with my first airplane ride, an early Spring trip in a Cessna 172, which was surprisingly warm, even on a northern March day. The pilot was a trusted and beloved uncle and, even though I’d heard a lot about plane crashes, I felt safe because he was there.

      On the broader aspects of the subject, dreams seem to reveal our psyche in a very open manner. It isn’t surprising that Lee’s recurring dream would include interesting wildlife, because that is part of his very nature.

      IMHO, the place is real, perhaps not as a literal location, but as a very real perception of how things can be, in God’s due time. It’s also real in the sense that it exists in Lee’s mind and I am convinced that even in our fallen state, we have an instinctive comprehension of the way God intended the earth to be.

    2. Yes, in real life I’ve had occasion to row a boat in clear, shallow water, surrounded by golden sedge, with fish and birds for company–and God knows I loved every minute of it. So it’s not surprising that I would try to get back to it in a dream.

      It’s just that those two particular dreamscapes that I mentioned have been so consistent over the years: I really could draw maps of either of them.

    3. There are some very specific places I visited as a child which are alive in my mind, to this day. Scenic, beautiful and off the beaten path; places that inspire both the mind and heart. On a fairly recent visit, I was able to visit one of these places for the first time in many, many years. (My second most recent visit was during the Carter administration, the one before that was probably during the Johnson administration.) Little had changed. There were some buildings added, but it was much like it had been during the fifties.

      The natural aspect hadn’t changed a bit. The waterways and wildlife were completely the same as they had been when I was a small child. If anything, there were more animals, fish, etc. This puts the lie to the claims I recall from grade school, when the Weekly Reader told us that the world of our adulthood would be completely deforested, unless we stopped logging immediately.

      But this is a place I’ve dreamed of many, many times. It’s my first mental picture of paradise and remains a paradise in my mind to this day.

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