Dreams are made of this...

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

A friend recently shared his dream of being back in college and not knowing what classes he was taking or where they were. Then he realized that he forgot to go to one class the entire semester, and wondered how he was going to pass the final.

Some of us who went to college in the 1970s may have actually encountered these situations in real life, but he was having an anxiety dream and asked if anyone else had them.

I am raising my hand. It’s amazing how great minds think alike because I have had some of those same dreams - or nightmares.

I am a practical sort of guy. I don’t believe dreams mean anything. They are, in my opinion, just a collection of memories thrown together during the REM part of sleep.

Most of the time I wake up in the morning not remembering what I was dreaming, but occasionally the dream is clear as reality.

In the movie “Inception,” dream and reality cross lines, and Leonardo DiCaprio has trouble telling which is which. In fact, the viewer has trouble telling, especially when the spinning top starts wobbling as the movie ends - real time or just another dream?

That’s what Hollywood does, crossing lines and keeping us guessing. They should make a sequel so that we can find out if DiCaprio is really home or just dreaming.

But I’ve had several anxiety dreams in which I could not find my classroom, even many years after graduating college. In high school, the schedule was set and orderly. My dreams about missing classes and missing classrooms didn’t start until college.

In other recurring dreams I was able to fly by just swimming, like in a pool. The harder I swam, the higher in the air I would soar. Anxiety dreams would not be complete without being chased, so when I was swimming through the air, I also was usually being chased by someone for some reason.

I was swimming for my life, so to speak, but I never died. In “Inception,” if you died in the dream, you also died in real life. I’ve heard though, that in real dreams, you cannot die, which must be true because I never did.

If I got caught, I just woke up. But if I quickly fell back to sleep, the same dream continued where it left off. So, I made sure that I stayed up for a few minutes and started a new dream, perhaps a little more relaxing, like taking a final exam in my pajamas when everyone else is dressed in regular street clothes.

That doesn’t seem to bother me as much as not being able to find a classroom or not remembering my schedule. It’s been a few decades since I have turned in my last final exam or term paper, but these dreams hang around.

They don’t happen very often, and since they are recurring, I know what to expect. But I still don’t know where the class is, or how I’ll pass that final exam.

Dreams are also a good way to talk to loved ones who have passed on and see them the way they used to be. I have had several dreams about my mother, who died in 1986.

She was young, active and full of energy in the dreams. We were talking, like we did for many decades. And then I woke up and reality set in, and life goes on.

One of my other dreams was in black and white and in the middle of a city to which I had never been, something right out of the early 1900s.

It was as real as it gets, down to the last detail of brickwork, top hats and mustaches. I don’t remember why I was there, except that I was being chased for some reason.

I still don’t know where that city setting came from, but it was interesting. And, I outran my chaser, so I hung around for awhile, taking in the sights before waking up.


The longest REM period is generally the last to occur in a night’s sleep. You can deduce from this, that the maximum length of a lucid dream has to be somewhere below two hours. In reality, most lucid dreams fall somewhere between the 5-30 minutes mark.

In our dreams, we see real faces of real people that we have seen during our life, but may not know or remember. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces throughout our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilize during our dreams.