Editor’s Note: This is an opinion column.
By David Carroll, News and Notes
Have you had “the dream?” I posed that question on Facebook recently and was astonished to learn that almost everyone has.
The dream takes us back to school. But, first, we must take an important exam.
Yet, we are not prepared. We haven’t been coming to class or studied a single page. How did we let this happen? There’s no way we can pass. Then we awaken. Thank goodness! We are no longer in school!
Many of my friends wake up in the same cold sweat. Here are some of their stories.
“I must be in that same class. I walk in, sit down, and it is final exam day. I suddenly realize: I have never been to class!”
“I either can’t find my locker, or I can’t remember the combination.”
“I’m in college, and I can’t even find the building where my class meets.”
Scientists call these “inadequacy dreams.” They say we feel unqualified for our jobs or not as prepared as we pretend to be in our current lives.
The school dreams don’t end there. “In my schoolboy nightmare,” a friend says, “I walk to school and then realize I’m only wearing underwear. It’s clean underwear. Mom insisted on that, in case I got injured jumping off the roof or some other idiotic prank.”
After reading about these frightening school dreams, one man wrote, “I think this proves that school was a traumatic experience for us all. Maybe we can sue the government for the lifelong stress it has caused!”
All sorts of dream studies have been done, but it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions with so many interpretations. Maybe dreams are God’s way of telling us that we need to slow down and relax.
In one of my dreams that mirrors my daily life, I’m at work, preparing to anchor the evening news. Unfortunately, I can’t get my tie on right. So, despite my frantic efforts, I miss the entire newscast. The last time I had that dream, I woke up with my heart pounding.
I also dream of my younger days in radio, and the song is about to end. I can’t find another one to play. Plus, I have absolutely nothing to say. All of my old radio pals share that dream.
A preacher tells me he dreams of being in the pulpit, with a church full of people. “My mind is a total blank,” he said.
That is similar to “the actor’s nightmare.” One friend wrote, “I am pushed on stage, without knowing my lines. Everyone else knows theirs. How I can fake my way through this one!”
A friend who plays the trumpet said, “I dream that I’m eating crunchy food, and all my teeth crumble and fall out!”
We dream of falling, getting chased, or being lost.
For instance, “I am trying to walk, but it’s like trying to run through waist-high mud. When I try to call my wife, my phone just falls apart.”
“I back out of a parking space, and my car will only go reverse. I am speeding all over the place backwards.”
“Driving up a long bridge, either to have it descend down into the water or else at the peak of the bridge, the road just ends.”
Summing up, one friend wrote, “In my dreams, I am always unable to finish the chore I’m trying to do.”
My grandfather Floyd Carroll grew up working in the fields. Well into his nineties, he would wake up “dog tired.” He dreamed about plowing, picking cotton, and other farming chores. “I feel like I’ve worked all night,” he would say.
Often, dreams are not to be taken lightly. Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder replay their horrific wartime experiences. After what they have survived, those of us who only dream of school or work trauma should be thankful.
Some lucky folks dream about flying. They don’t even have to flap their arms; they just sail through the air. Experts say that flying dreams are usually pleasant, reflecting the fact that you feel good about your life. You have a successful relationship, an enjoyable job, or a promising future opportunity.
My friend Tim Pham is a fine young reporter who is always prepared. So I was not surprised when he starred in one of my recent dreams. There was a fire in our kitchen. We all stood around, not knowing what to do. Then, suddenly, Tim rushes in, wearing a fireman’s gear, and puts out the blaze. We all exclaimed, “Thank goodness for Tim; he’s always there when you need him!”
So, the next time you wake up from a dream, whether you’re in a cold sweat or with a look of relief on your face, take comfort in the fact that your dream is shared by many. You are not alone.
(David Carroll is a Chattanooga TV news anchor and radio host. His new book, “Hello Chattanooga,” is available at his website, Chattanooga RadioTV.com, and you may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405)