I’m not big on resolutions. I appreciate that the start of a new year offers an opportunity to take stock, but I usually shy away from all-out resolutions. Over the last few years, life has taught me that plans get interrupted, shit happens, and priorities change. And that’s okay. I guess that means I’m resolving to roll with the punches, go with the flow, take it as it comes, and a bunch of other similar clichés.
But, this year, I do have a small resolution: To start keeping a dream journal. I can feel your eyes rolling from here, but stay with me.
I kept a diary for about 20 years. I was obsessed with it. When I was a kid, I asked my parents for a fireproof safe to keep all my journals. They obliged on one of my birthdays. I still have those journals, in boxes in my garage (the fireproof safe is now used for important things, like birth certificates and passports). Like most diarists, I’ve never gone back and read through my entries. The simple act of writing them was the means and the end.
I stopped keeping a formal diary in my early thirties. I don’t know why, exactly. Life got busy. I got happy. I met my now-husband and found I enjoyed talking through things with him instead of writing about them (though, I’m sure he’d prefer I’d spare his listening ear at times). Still, when I can’t put my finger on how I feel about something, or when I’m really emotional about something, I send emails to myself. That’s my modern-day diary, I suppose.
Susan Sontag on keeping a diary:
I’m somewhat famous in my inner circle for having bizarre dreams. The other night, in my dream world, my elementary school best friend (hi, Eurie!) slipped between two rock formations and Matthew McConaughey emerged with her in his arms saying, “Alright, alright, alright.” I won’t tell you more of my dreams because nobody really cares about other people’s dreams. The look on my husband’s face when I say, “I had the weirdest dream last night” pretty much confirms this. (Side note: My husband claims he hardly ever dreams, which is so strange to me. I dream every night, though sometimes I don’t remember the dreams clearly).
I’ve started to wonder if dreams are my creative mind getting its jollies when I’m too busy to indulge in writing a good piece of fiction (I seem to dream more when I’m not working on a novel). I’ve started to wonder if there’s something in my dreams that’s meant to guide the stories I tell (or, hell, my life decisions). I’ve been taking five minutes every morning to jot down what I remember from my dreams. So far, I haven’t had any epiphanies. But, it’s fun to commit to paper things I usually just forget about as the day goes on. As Virginia Woolf said about her diary-keeping, “The advantage of the method is that it sweeps up accidentally several stray matters which I should exclude if I hesitated, but which are the diamonds of the dustheap.”
Yes, diamonds of the dustheap. I mean, you never really know what’s in buried in your subconscious, right?
I’ll report back on any interesting findings (or additional appearances of Matthew McConaughey).