“Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.”
Ah, dreams. The place where one can fly to china on a chariot being pulled by two unicorns shitting rainbows, while fondling Bette Midler. Strange, funny, and often scary things occur in dreams, and you feel it. Every spine-tingling moment, every sensation, pleasure, pain, even your own death*.
The topic of dreams has come up several times in the past few weeks, and listening to opinions has been interesting, but mostly it’s been incredibly frustrating. I soon recognized what was bothering me so much. Take a moment dear reader, and search, “why do we dream” on youtube, then try google. Boy, that’s a lot of results, isn’t it? I would place a large wager that a full 85-90 percent of results popping up from internet searches related to dreams are commercial in nature.
Not only that, but some of the ideas being put forth, often by ‘educated’ persons are appallingly stupid. However, it’ll make sense once you receive that totem bracelet you ordered..
Dreaming and religion are two large branches on a massive tree of ignorance, that bears fruit for the charlatan. Since it has by and large been left open for interpretation, it is possible to sell just about any idea you like, and of course, the various books and merchandise that come with it.
Well Neo, it appears you have a choice ahead of you. You may opt to continue reading and accept the fact that santa isn’t real, or, if you prefer, you may drag up, then exit stage right, via the cute little red button. In which case, be sure to leave out milk and cookies this year for everyone’s favorite chubby danish shoe thief.
Ah, I knew you wouldn’t let me down! Everyone gets excited for the holidays, even kids who know where the gifts come from, so let’s disembark from the magical mystery tour and think a bit.
It is common knowledge that dreaming occurs in many, if not all, vertebrate species. Cats, dogs, mice, rabbits, etc. If you have a brain, you’re dreaming. This is very telling from an evolutionary standpoint, because it leaves no doubt that, A) dreams are the price we paid for complex brains, and B) dreaming is absolutely essential, and just because you don’t recall dreams, doesn’t mean you aren’t having them, you are.
Yes, you read that correctly. The price we paid. “But I loveeee my dreams!! they tell me things! they tell me the fuuuuuture!!” No, they don’t. Regardless, it is a simple matter to hop on your craftmatic, pop an ambien, and dream all you like. However, it was not so long ago that sleeping was a very serious matter for people as a whole. We were no different from the other animals, our lengthy and deep sleep cycles left us wide open for predation if proper precaution was not taken. It is one thing to be asleep, but it is entirely another to descend into REM sleep, and suddenly have the need for full consciousness and full voluntary muscle function. Creatures in this state are completely and utterly vulnerable, and as I said, despite our fluffy pillows and posturepedic mattresses, this is highly undesirable.
“But then WHY Tobas…WHYYYY!!??”
Jesus, calm down, I’m getting to it. But let’s talk about eating, and breathing for a moment.
“Noooo!! TELLLL meeeeeee!!”
Stop being a child and pay attention, this is important. Eh hem. Now reader, take your hands, and place them on the sides of your neck, about right in the middle. Feel those two thick ropes? Those are your carotid arteries. You may cut your leg, arm, torso, etc. But just a nip from those puppies and it’s game over, fast. Those two bad boys have one job, and one job only. Their sole purpose is to ferry a full 20 percent of your body’s available resources into that beer-soaked ball of slime you call a brain. Take a moment now, and think of that ratio. What you eat and breathe all gets delivered by your blood, so a full 20 percent of all of those things are being used by that one organ, weighing a few pounds at most. Think of how many other functions your body must perform constantly, and then quickly stop, because it’ll take forever to sort through them all. Point is, ALL of the rest have 80 percent to work with, no if ands or big juicy buts about it.
So our cells get nutrients, and a dash of oxygen, and poof, we have metabolism. But there’s a price for that too, and it’s probably the heaviest of all. The by-products that result from this process are often harmful, yet lonely little molecules which someone selling you juice will repeat to you over and over, we call them, “free radicals”. Pretty awesome name for a molecule that just frantically wants his electron back. So he goes and gets one, where ever he can, as soon as he can. If he grabs from the wrong place, that could lead to trouble. The other juice word is, “anti-oxidants”, these substances take care of that problem basically by saying, “don’t cry little molecule, here, you can have my electron”.
All over our bodies, these ‘maintenance’ functions must be performed, and just as those carotid arteries must ferry in the yummy, they must also ferry out the ugly. And with that little lump burning up 20 percent of the things we take in, you can be sure there’s gonna be a whole lot of ugly wedged in those wrinkly little nooks and crannies. That’s just the beginning, our chemical secretions, receptors, neurons, etc. ALL of those things need cleaning and organizing. It’s a big job, and a delicate job as well, as the brain is a delicate organ, and so it must be cleaned and sorted delicately. Lucky for us, we have what seems to be the dream charlatans word of choice, the “sub-conscious”.
“That’s where we work out our problems mannnnn….No, no, that’s where your soul is mannnnn…Nahhh guys, that’s like, totally spirits and stuff talking to us mannnn, like, my dead uncle visited me and stuff!”
And on, and on, and on. I usually walk away at this point, because the way I explain it is, “science mannn, but we’re like, totally talking about the spiritual aspect”. That point of view is so absurd I am forced to leave because my ears will not permit me to listen anymore.
The “sub-conscious” is what we really mean when we use the term “god”. Whoa boy, I really opened up a can of worms there didn’t I? Hang on there pokey, this aint going where you think it is.
We see our dreams, as “sub-conscious” expression, when truly, our dreams, are “sub-conscious” function.
Furthermore, “sub-conscious” is not conscious in any way that seems to be commonly accepted. Our ‘medulla oblongata’, (which everyone should know because of Adam Sandler, and that is very sad), IS, our “sub-conscious”.
It is often called the ‘hind-brain’, or ‘reptilian brain’ because it is solely responsible for essential, involuntary functions, such as breathing, heart beat, etc. It is like the terminator of our brains, it has it’s job to do, and it’s going to do it whether we like it or not and there is simply no reasoning with it.
“But WHYYYYY DREAMSSSSSS…..GOD WHYYYY??!!!”
Get a hold of yourself ::slap::. Okay then. Let’s go back to cleaning for a moment. Since our brain is such a special little guy, he has special little cells that run around up there and do the dirty work. These guys are called glial cells. They ‘gently’ run around and take care of problems and dispose of waste. Let us say, you cut your finger, and you skipped the neosporin, and it got infected, no biggie. Now, let us say that little infection got in your brain, or spine. Ruh roh shraggy. This is because of our blood brain barrier, which in essence keeps the regular nasty crap out of our ‘computer rooms’, but at the same time denies access to our immune system A-team. So these little glial cells take a fine haired brush, and gently scrape shit out of our brains.
Now reader, I know if you came this far with me, you know what’s next.
Little industrious glial cells are busy running all over our brains, cleaning our motor circuits, memory circuits, visual, audio, scent, taste, touch, etc. So, while this is happening, what do you think we might see?…..EVERYTHING…and ANYTHING. We might smell it, taste it, touch it, kiss it, fly, fall, ANYTHING. I cannot emphasize that enough.
Our sleep cycles are the body preparing itself for ‘brain maintenance’***. Because as these neurons are being gently scrubbed and tickled, we may be re-living a knife fight in Cambodia, so evolution has provided us with a “sub-conscious” task-master who gently eases our striated (voluntary) muscle, into smooth (involuntary) muscle. A very small percentage of children, and even smaller percentage of adults sleepwalk, they are very lucky to exist, because that is a trait that can easily be deadly in modern times, but when it REALLY mattered millennia ago , I imagine it was a lot more lethal.
“BUT WAITTTTT, IIIIII GOTCHA!!!….I have the same dreams allll the time, explain that mr. science poopy pants!!”
Well, that can be the case, and it does seem to run a bit in contradiction to random sensory stimulation as a result of ‘brain maintenance’
Those dreams are different. They are messages from angels in heaven…
LOL does not suffice. The worst part is, I hear nonsense like this all of the time. So then, where were we..
Ah yes, same dreams! Well, alright reader, what did you do today? Uh huh, okay, and the day before? What about last week? Now I’m about to stun you with a feat of amazing power and mystical might. I’m going to go ahead and say you probably did more or less the same thing. We are creatures of habit, we like our coffee like this, and our movies like that, and our women young and asian…eh hem. Anyway, the reason we learn and retain information as well as we do, is because our brains make us little shortcuts.
Let us say you were Derek Jeter. Once you finished banging all of manhattan island, you would have to hit a baseball, moving very quickly. That involves multiple motor functions, as well as visual, audio etc. In other words, lots of things have to come together in a short period of time. So by repeating the same activity, swinging a bat, driving to work, taking the train etc., your brain is creating these shortcuts so you don’t have to mapquest every morning. The process of learning LITERALLY shapes your brain. In physical ways. It doesn’t stop at learning tasks or information either. Emotions, people, sensations, everything and anything can be a factor in your daily routine that leads to these established neuron pathways.
Now reader, don’t let me down, we’ve come so far, where is this going?
If you use the same pathways formed from habit**, it therefore follows that those particular areas would require a scrubbing a bit more often, no? So, then, come on reader, you say it,
“Hmmm…so then, we would tend to dream about the same things fairly often, depending on the many factors that comprise routine parts (thoughts, feelings, tasks) of our existence!”
Oh you so smart reader! I give you cookie maybe.
I liked santa. I mean, it never made sense, but that wasn’t the point really. I liked the idea of a heaven too, in retrospect it now sounds terrifying (eternity with a human mental capacity??).
Look friends, am I saying that there isn’t some aspect of dreams that transcends the physical, and perhaps we do take a trip through the spirit world every now and then while we slumber?
Yes. That is EXACTLY what I am saying. There is nothing wrong with seeing magic and mystery in the things around us, in nature, in ourselves, but that is no excuse for accepting a heaping load of horseshit as fact coming from someone who either wants to tell you your future, or has a message from your dead puppy.
Cut it out. All of you. Things are more beautiful than any cock and bull spirit story if you take the time to truly learn about them, and I mean all things, not just dreams.
So believe in the wonder that is the human body at work, or keep drinking that delicious kool-aid…mmmmm purple..my favorite.
Until fiction goes in the right section…
Live it, Love it,
*yes, you can “die” in your dreams, and no there is nothing wrong with it, and NO, it doesn’t mean anymore than any other nonsense.
**It is possible for a pathway to form very quickly in the case of trauma andor extreme duress.
***bear in mind, I am speaking of ‘normal’ sleep cycles, meaning, a period between 8-10 hours of rest that usually begins at some point in the late evening. In the case of persons who are sleep deprived, or erratic sleepers, it is possible that the body will execute an emergency period of abrupt and heavy REM sleep for the sake of survival. This is not healthy and often leads to abnormalities in what is accepted as ‘typical’ behavior, and may lead to prolonged changes in personality andor disposition. This is typically due to an accumulation of toxins. From a personal standpoint, I can vouch that this is absolute truth.