The One Thing I Don’t Understand About Dreams
By New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Levin
I am a gerbil farmer in Montana with 15,000 of the little furry critters on my huge ranch.
My mother is alive and well and living in an assisted living facility in Denver.
I would like to have children one day and don’t understand why I have none.
If you tried to convince me of any of these hypotheticals, I would laugh at you.
I am not a gerbil farmer.
My mother is no longer with us, and to my knowledge never even visited Denver.
I am a father of four.
I know without question that each of those crazy assertions is untrue.
But when I dream those things, and I have dreamt each of those things in the last month, I completely buy in.
I’m not asking why we dream.
I have no idea.
I have seen several conflicting and ultimately unsatisfying answers to the question of why people dream.
Some say dreams have no importance whatsoever, and that they are simply brain junk we are processing for unknown reasons.
Others take a more spiritual approach and say that a dream unexamined is like a letter unopened.
How the heck would I know?
I just want to know why dreams are so believable when they’re usually utterly ridiculous, implausible and contrary to rational fact.
Now, I like my life.
In terms of human experience over the millennia, I have it easy.
Our family enjoys indoor plumbing.
Most things in my life have worked out.
Not perfectly, not always easily, but I really have nothing to complain about.
And yet, my brain, for whatever reason, spends its sleeping hours escaping from the rather pleasant life I have into a theater of the absurd.
Why would it do that?
Why can’t it be happy with what is real, instead of having to concoct all these bizarre scenarios involving gerbil ranches or my mother living in Denver?
Gerbils are cute pets, but still.
Who needs 15,000?
Perhaps one day, a brilliant young research scientist will discover the reason why we believe such arrant nonsense in the wee small hours.
Until then, like most people, I will continue to believe that the crazy things I think of while dreaming are utterly true.
I would share more thoughts with you on this topic, but I cannot.
It’s time to feed the gerbils.