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. 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’re 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.” In our current lives, they say, we feel unqualified for our jobs, or not as prepared as we pretend to be.
The school dreams don’t end there. “In my schoolboy nightmare,” a friend says, “I walk to the 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 with so many interpretations, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions. 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 for the 5 p.m. news. I can't seem to get my tie on right. 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 being back in radio, and my record is running out. I can’t find another one to play. Plus, I have absolutely nothing to say. That dream is shared by all of my old radio pals.
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. Here are some other common dreams.
“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, “I always seem unable to finish the chore I’m trying to do in a dream.”
My grandfather Floyd Carroll, born in 1896, 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 former co-worker Tim Pham is a fine young reporter who is always prepared. I was not surprised when he starred in one of my recent dreams. There was a fire in our work kitchen. We all stood around, not knowing what to do. Suddenly, Tim rushes in, wearing 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, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405)