I had another rare nightmare last night. I know it because my rhythmic whimpering wakes my mom and dad, who (in turn) wake me to stop the madness happening in my mind. More often than not, the madness unfortunately does not come to a complete halt upon waking. The memories of my nightmare haunt my thoughts the remainder of the night and into the day, often forcing me to reflect on paths that my optimistic personality prefers to avoid.
Today I reflect on my surreal dream by observing that the general public seems to misunderstand the concept of the word “surreal.” Until today, I always thought of it as a positive reflection on one’s experience, like a dream coming true. On the contrary, Bing aligns the surreal with the “bizarre: weirdly unfamiliar, distorted, or disturbing, like the experiences in a dream or the objects or experiences depicted in surrealism.” The optimist in me wants to see the good in all words, so this took me by surprise.
As did my dream last night, which (now that I have a better understanding of the word) was incredibly surreal. I was enjoying a car ride with my mom and dad (which is one of my most favorite things to do with them) after about a year in my forever home. We were in the car for an unusually long period of time, which had me the most excited for the adventure the journey would bring.
Then it happened. I started to recognize my surroundings and I was not happy with what I saw.
I know that bridge, I thought, and that is Lake Winnebago…I know that lake. Then it occurred to me…they must be taking me back to the humane society just like the other family did before them. But no, I thought, this is different! They love me!
That’s when mom woke me up. Thank goodness. Because that drive really did happen, and the ending was nothing like it was in my nightmare. My parents (obviously) did not return me to the humane society. Instead, we ended up driving for three more hours before we reached our destination: a cabin on a lake in a new, exciting place they called the “Northwoods” of Wisconsin. The three days that followed were some of the happiest of my doggie life.
To me, that is taking the reality check that is surrealism back to the positive side of the coin. Sometimes we are hit with surreal moments that remind us to be thankful for what’s real in our lives.
Sarah Ban Breathnach speaks of something like this in Simple Abundance. She refers to these moments of darkness as moments of divine discontentment. In these moments it is more crucial than ever to find value that brings a little light into the room of reflection that takes residence in our minds.
“(Divine Discontentment) is part of the process,” Breathnach writes. “It is the grit in the oyster before the pearl. This creative second chance is when we come into our own. When we finally claim our lives and wrestle our futures from our fate. When we learn how to spin straw into gold. When we realize gratefully that we can live by our own lights if we access the Power.”
Nightmares don’t scare me as much as I continue to live by my own light.