warning: content may not be suitable for younger readers
When I was five, I had my first nightmare.
At the bottom of the hill we live on, everyone in the neighborhood was gathered together. But this wasn’t a picnic. We were trying to climb the hill. Even out of my dream, it’s big. So, we tried to climb it but every time we moved an inch forward on our hands and knees, we slid back down to the bottom. We could never climb the hill.
We could try all we wanted, but what did it matter? All we did was fall back to the bottom.
A truck drove by then. We begged for to help us. We begged for it to let us on so that we could finally go up the hill. But it didn’t just drive us – it drove over us.
This was a dream that kept happening to me. In different variations, but the theme was still the same thing over and over again – I would try to climb the hill. I would never succeed. I could never succeed.
It was terrifying to me. It might seem tame when it’s read but to me? It seemed so very real. Even now when I write this, it still scares me. Because I still remember what it was like – to always fall back down the hill.
You could scream, you could cry, you could claw on the concrete all you wanted. But it didn’t matter, did it?
A little while ago, I dreamed that I was forced to cut off the fingers of my hand. I can still see them now when I look at my right hand – bleeding stumps. Hideous, mangled things.
There’s more. I used to joke about how my dreams always had somebody being killed. I didn’t realize until later how horrible those dreams were. I started to remember my feelings during them – how scared and anxious I felt. Then I realized: they were nightmares.
But nightmares aren’t real. None of the experiences that I ever had came to life, and I don’t think that they ever will. But when you’re asleep, when your mind takes control like that, you don’t think about the realism. Isn’t that the scariest part of a nightmare? How real it feels? And even if it didn’t happen, isn’t there always the underlying terror of what if it does happen?
I dreamed about being in a plane crash a few days ago before my flight back to the U.S. After that, all I could think about when I heard about the flight was what if my nightmare became reality? What if one day, maybe not then, it actually happened?
I boarded the plane. I went through all twelve hours of the flight. Nothing happened.
Once I actually got on the plane, I stopped worrying. It seemed kind of crazy now that we should crash. Once I was actually in the setting, my nightmare stopped seeming like a possible reality.
Before I boarded, I said a prayer in my mind. I know that now you’re thinking, “Oh – this is just another religious post.” But do you know what? It worked. I still felt some of that anxiety in my mind, but it was calmed. By the time I had taken my seat, it was just a shadow of my previous worries.
I haven’t had another nightmare since.
And you know what? Some nightmares do become a reality. Those dreams that you’ve had about being pursued? Maybe it’s happening to somebody else. Those dreams that you’ve had about your house burning down? Maybe it’s happening to somebody else.
Those dreams that you’ve had about your beloved ones growing terminally ill? You yourself failing? Maybe it’s happening to somebody else. Those dreams that you’ve had about an explosion right outside your doors? Maybe it’s happening to somebody else. Maybe the explosion is even worse – inside, instead of out.
To those people, they literally are living in a nightmare. And we should do all that we can to turn it into a better dream.
So smile at someone, give up a seat, tell a joke, pick a flower, say a prayer for them – because you don’t know what kind of nightmares they’re going through. And even one little action for somebody you’ll never see again could bring that nightmare closer to the morning light.
Because everyone wakes up from nightmares eventually, don’t they?