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We haven’t really nailed down what dreams are all about and there are still differing theories. In the explanation that Freud promoted, dreams are a way to see into our subconscious desires, thoughts and motivations. This is where we get the idea that the things in dreams (manifest content) are really symbols for the latent, or hidden, content.

Other theories view dreaming as a way the brain generates new ideas and creativity. This explains how people wake up with a poem or the solution to a complex problem.

A more everyday variation on this theory is another that posits that dreams are the way we process the day’s information. In sleep and dreaming, we categorize, prune away and store memories.

However, none of these explain the persistent idea that dreams, at least sometimes, seem to predict or foreshadow future events. The three theories first mentioned all deal with the past, whether it be the past 48 hours, or our childhood years ago.

If you have ever had a dream that later turned out to be “true” or prophetic, you probably have some belief in precognitive dreams.

J. W. Dunne, a British engineer and amateur philosopher, proposed that the way we believe we experience time as linear was an illusion. Human consciousness fools us into believing that, when in fact past, present and future were continuous in a higher-dimensional reality. We have imposed this sequential time mental perception of time as a way to understand it.

He wrote about what he called “serial time” is a series of books beginning with An Experiment with Time (1928) , The Serial Universe (1934), The New Immortality (1938), Nothing Dies (1940) and Intrusions? (1955).

As the years passed, he connected “serialism” to psychology, parapsychology, theology, relativity and quantum mechanics. Several famous novelists were fans of his theories, including James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Aldous Huxley.

Vladimir Nabokov was another novelist who was taken with the Dunne’s idea that serial time allowed for dreams to “predict” a future we had already experienced. It also explained the déjà vu phenomenon.

In a recently published collection titled Insomniac Dreams,, we can see an experiment in time that Nabokov conducted himself.

Every morning for about three months, he would write down immediately upon awakening what he could recall of his dreams. Then the following days, he paid careful attention to anything that seemed to do with the recorded dream. This dream journal was recorded on index cards, which has also been his compositional method when he wrote Lolita.

He is surely not the only dream journaler who has believed that dreams are not just fragments of past impressions, but are both past and future events. Dunne said this was possible in his serial view of time because time then is not unidirectional but recursive.

Dunne would also say that the only way to observe the predictive nature o dreams is to pay careful attention to the content of dreams, as Nabokov and journaling do, and the events that follow in waking life.

Nabokov finds some instances of prophecy in his recorded dreams, but nothing I would consider extraordinary despite his idea that when you are confronted with predicted outcomes that might be explained as coincidences multiple times, you cease to believe they are coincidences and believe they “form the living organism of a new truth.”

I am more in the coincidence school of belief about the predictive aspects of dreams, and that they are given more weight when we pay closer attention, as Nabokov did.

Perhaps, I should do my own experiment paying closer attention to the followup days  and dream self-reflection. Though lately, I have not had any dreams to record as they seem to disappear before I even wake up with my dream journal beside me. What’s that all about?


Is it a good morning so far? Do you have some ritual that is part of your typical morning? I wrote earlier about some daily rituals of famous folks. There were some that involved the mornings, but here I am interested in just mornings.

Benjamin Franklin had a belief that is still pretty well accepted: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” A good night’s sleep and getting moving in the morning is the “early bird gets the worm” concept of what successful people do.

I am not a morning person. Even though my work situation has changed recently, I still wake up pretty automatically at 7 am. My rituals for the past five years has been to get up, take my medicine and vitamins with a glass of water, make coffee and breakfast and eat while watching some morning news. Check my email and calendar. I didn’t rush because I didn’t need to be at work until 10 am and my office was only a 20 minute drive. Off to the bathroom for my shower, get dressed. Leave the house by 9:30. Hardly a stressful morning.

Now, I have no office to go to. I work virtually from home. I still get up at 7, but the breakfast and computer time sometimes stretch on for most of the morning. I might not make it to that shower until 10 or 11 am.

I’m feeling guilty about that. But why? I’m working. I don’t need to be dressed to work either. Is it because I have bought into the Franklin concept of being an early riser?

I found a post about why I am not a morning person, but I didn’t really want to know how to become a morning person.

Franklin says that early to bed and early up it makes you “healthy, wealthy and wise.” Healthy? Would I be less healthy if I slept until 8 or 9 am? No, especially since I usually don’t get to sleep until after midnight (because I am a night owl type). I have read that early to bed and early to rise will give you a better night’s sleep and that you will be happier all day. Hasn’t proven to be true for me.

Wealthy? I have seen articles about early risers being more proactive, getting better grades in school and that many of the most successful CEO types are up by 6 am. Early risers, the experts claim, might also sleep better and feel happier.

Wise? Well, it’s 8:30 now and her I am typing away. I’m certainly not wiser in the morning. I peak later in the day and I know my creativity peaks at night.

I did some checking on those healthy, wealthy and wise people.

President Obama is also self-proclaimed night owl, but he wakes up early to squeeze in a workout before getting to the office around 8:30 or 9 am.

Anna Wintour, the original devil wearing Prada as Vogue editor, starts her day with a 5:45 am tennis match, followed by her daily blow-out at 6:45 to get her famous hairdo.

Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher was pretty famous for only needing 4 hours of sleep, so she worked until 2 or 3 in the morning working, but was still up by 5 am. Part of her ritual was listening to “Farming Today,” a popular BBC Radio show.

Russian novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, worked in the morning. He told The New York Times in 1968 that at his Lake Geneva home he would wake at 6-7 am and then “…write till 10:30, generally at a lectern which faces a bright corner of the room instead of the bright audiences of my professorial days. The first half-hour of relaxation is breakfast with my wife around 8:30.”

Actress, Gwyneth Paltrow,  is certainly on the healthy train (probably pretty damned wealthy too). She says she wakes up at 4:30 am to practice her asanas, even though she says she is not a morning person. Discipline.

I went back to my copy of Daily Rituals and found one of favorite architects (Everyone has favorite architects, right?), Frank Lloyd Wright. He was a morning person who said he got his best ideas from 4-7 am. Wright said, “I go to sleep promptly when I go to bed,” Lloyd Wright explained to a friend, as documented in Daily Rituals. “Then I wake up around 4 a.m. and can’t sleep. But my mind’s clear, so I get up and work for three or four hours. Then I go to bed for another nap.”

I love Frank’s work but I am closer to Simone de Beauvoir in my morning ritual.  The Second Sex author and feminist thinker was not a morning person. She told The Paris Review, “I first have tea and then, at about 10, I get under way and work until one.”  Tough day.

Joseph Heller wrote Catch-22 for two or three hours a night after his job at an advertising agency. I love that when Heller quit his day job to write full-time, he still only worked on his novels for two to three hours.

Do a Google search on “daily morning ritual” and you will find no shortage of advice. Most of it is about getting going in the morning to charge your daily batteries. That works for some people. For the rest of us, pour another cup, have another bite of breakfast and click on over to another blog post. Relax. You have all day to get to work.

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