A Stretch of Truth
By Robyn Groth
Among the varied definitions of the word “sound,” one is most immediate to our bodies and useful to our daily existence: the sensation produced by vibrations stimulating parts of an ear. At night, a sound may be our first indication of something happening. Then, with our eyes but without the apparent colors of day, we use variation in shade to perceive form. The night demands that we actively observe and interpret our surroundings in our search for definition; it requires effort, but we are not helpless.
Another definition of “sound” is: a relatively narrow passage of water between larger bodies of water. Like the ear canal, which allows communication between the external world and the mind, the night is a passage between days that offers dreams as a means of communication with the subconscious. The dream world is like the ocean, vast and largely unexplored. We are adrift in it; our bodies and conscious will are left behind in reality. The images presented may be discontinuous and are often strange and unexpected, like a less-known definition of “sound”: the air bladder of a fish. Dreams tell us stories in fragments of information, and they offer no explanation.
They can be puzzling. Our self may be broken into aspects and personified as strangers or people we know, or it may be represented by objects. Our anxiety may be personified as our self, nude; we may see our protective side represented by a house. In my own dreams, my imposter-syndrome-artist-self appears wearing the ruffled coats and fancy hats a child might wear while playing dress-up. There may be only one aspect of our self present in a dream, or we may see a set of four personas that illustrate complementary aspects of our self. We can communicate with our self, or selves, and better understand who we are through the actions and interactions of these personas.
These personas may do things that are impossible in our world, but the dream world is a womb that protects them and us from the consequences of reality. They explore and experiment, and we come to no real harm. They find ways to tell or show each other what to do, how they feel, what they want and need. They may find a way to make every aspect happy, or we may be left to work this out when we wake. Having been given the message of how we have been falling apart, we are prepared to put our self back together.
I recently dreamt that I was the captain of a boat, which was my home, an upgrade from a previous ramshackle boat. Though this boat was good, it was a family boat, and in the dream, I bought another boat, a smaller boat with no frills, simple and suitable for a solitary dweller. My analyst led me to believe that in this dream, I was floating on my watery emotions, seeing an improvement in conditions, but still having a need for solitude and personal exploration. Some believe that dreams are random, meaningless images and may feel this interpretation is a stretch; I would agree. It is a narrow stretch of truth between large bodies of quotidian white noise.
The truth can be shown to us in darkness. The quiet of night allows us to perceive that which is usually obscured by daytime noise and activity. In sleep, we satisfy our need for stillness. Supine with eyes closed, we see things differently, and if we are alert to the messages of our imagination, we might make some sense of our internal world and spend our days more fully sound.