Something rather good has erupted like pollen from this past spring and then the addition of summer’s social isolation. My mind has been drifting.
All by itself, it is dredging up memories, mostly good ones. I mean, the really, really good memories are from the innocence and wonder of a typical American childhood, really distant memories – from lifetimes ago – when we were still allowed to spend pennies at the store, and nobody told us the mint was not making coin.
A recent National Geographic study polled many people around the world—including more than 600 featured in just one study—who say they are experiencing a new phenomenon: coronavirus pandemic dreams.
Science has long suggested that dream content and emotions are connected to wellbeing while we’re awake. Bizarre dreams laden with symbolism allow some dreamers to overcome intense memories or everyday psychological stressors within the safety of their subconscious.
The virus is invisible, and I think that’s why it’s transformed, the study concludes,
The virus is invisible, and I think that’s why it’s transformed into so many different things.Deirdre Barrett, Harvard University
This week I woke up in one of those post-dream phases where you’re not asleep but not quite awake, either: the best time to rein in the edges of your dream and frame it before it is erased by cornflakes and coffee and morning light.
I remained as still as possible to capture the details.
We were all back in elementary school. As dreams rarely make sense, my classmates included pint-sized versions of people I have known throughout my lifetime, even my grandmother.
No matter that she was in grade school a full 60+ years before I was; dreams are like that.
Let it be
So anyway. We were out on the playground. It was recess and lunchtime and a cluster of us were sitting cross-legged in a circle near the swing set. I remember there was a teeter-totter there, too.
We were trading lunches.
Two Twinkies for a homemade cookie.
Bologna for a PBJ.
An apple for a Hershey Bar
A kid named Robert was in the circle, and he had a liverwurst sandwich. This detail rang true – there really was a kid named Robert in the first grade whose mom packed a liverwurst sandwich nearly every day; Robert seemed to like it and rarely traded it out. He probably wouldn’t have very many takers, anyway.
I mean, liverwurst.
It was only a dream, but it had real slices of reality sandwiched in.
Maybe you, too, did your share of lunchtime negotiations back in the day.
You got rid of those vegetables and Mom was none the wiser.
Trading lunches was a childhood career for me
Those murky-dream-drenched lunch swaps – snippets of real memories rising to greet me during the Great Sequester of 2020.
A metaphor for what we seem to be doing these days ~
Opening our lunch pail, assessing the situation, and looking up to see what tastes better on that day. Negotiating a trade, pooling our resources, helping each other survive the “liverwurst” of life.
What if? What if we traded sorrows for singing? Worry for watchfulness… Anxiety for trust. News grazing for window gazing. Deep breathing for stress eating…. Curiosity for despair. These are good swaps, life-lifters. Switching out the bologna for a ribeye; trading the mundane for the moment you will savor and return to it again and again for a tasty reminder during a day of scarcity.
There’s a song lyric from a favorite musical that goes like this:
The clouded sun shall brightly rise,Godspell
And songs be heard instead of sighs.
What a glorious swap.
A chorus of songs rising up to conquer the gloom – a goofy, ravaged, joyful mix of imperfect voices. Gathering momentum, drowning out the cries and the sighs.
We will wake from this dreamlike state one day, looking to each other for guidance into the light of a New Normal.
Pass me the Corn Flakes, I can hardly wait.