I, on the other hand am completely freaked out by the concept of analyzing my dreams on anything more than a superficial level. I don't want my dreams to be puzzles or harbingers or premonitions. Viewing my dreams through that lens would be enough to keep me up all night.
So I don't think it's coincidental that I rarely dream at all. When I have the occasional strange or vivid dream, I don't remember it for long. And on those rare occasions when a dream lingers, I'm more likely to remember the people in it or the feeling it inspired. It seems that even in my dreams, I'm more interested in characters and emotion than plot.
Yet during the day, I think nothing of assigning meaning to encounters and situations that other people would brush off as coincidence. Take the other day, for example. I had dropped my daughter off at an activity. Typically, while she's there, I sit in my car in the parking lot and work on writing or class planning I've brought along, but on this particular day, I opted to make a quick Starbucks run. My initial intention was to take the back way to a store I go to only occasionally, but at the last minute, I changed my mind and opted to go to my "regular" Starbucks.
When I arrived, a friend I had not seen in quite a while was sitting with a friend of hers at the table in the window. After the requisite small talk, she told me she'd just gotten the news that her granddaughter was on the autism spectrum. As an educator, she knew full well what that meant, and had, in fact, suspected it, but as a grandmother, she needed a hug.
I think it's probably the first hug I've even given her, and it may well be the last, as our interactions aren't typically marked by hugs. But that day at that time when I was somewhere completely out of my usual routine, that was exactly what she needed. On any other Wednesday, I'd be sitting in a parking lot 3 miles away, tapping on my laptop keys or flipping textbook pages. But on that Wednesday, I was at my usual Starbucks at an unusual time, and I fully believe I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
These kinds of things happened all the time when I was contemplating retirement. Little messages dropped from God in the most unusual places, and communicated to me by the most unlikely sources. I was absolutely certain that these were the answers I was seeking, and they happened so often and so clearly that I couldn't simply dismiss them as wishful thinking.
My husband could. I think he actually rolled his eyes at me on more than one occasion.
But that didn't shake my certainty any more than my reluctance to analyze the contents of our dreams shakes his.
I've come to the conclusion that God speaks to us in the way He knows we'll hear him most clearly. During the day, my husband is a focused, routine-oriented person. He makes lists, and typically accomplishes the things he puts on his list. He is frustrated when my daughter and I are slow to tackle the day and get things done.
I, on the other hand, am an eclectic combination of purpose and meandering. I can be single-minded in my focus, or I can take life as it comes. Unfortunately, these tendencies seem to come and go as they please. Fortunately, over the course of a week, they seem to balance each other out so that I actually do get something accomplished.
I am slowly coming to realize that the meandering (which drives me crazy sometimes too) serves a purpose. It's the thing that leaves me open to possibility.
Barreling through my day, checking things off my list (as I sometimes believe grown-ups should do), I'd miss those opportunities. Things like driving home the long way so I can look at Christmas lights, or driving around the block one more time so I can listen to the rest of a song on the radio. Conversations with people I just "happen" to run into. A delay or an unexpected detour or a day that simply doesn't proceed according to schedule. My schedule, anyway. Because not only does God speak to us in the ways He knows we'll discern, but he also does so in His time.
I have difficulty remembering this when I'm stuck in traffic, or when the phone rings just as I've tuned out all the mini-distractions that conspire to steal me away from a designated task. Yet time after time, I seem to end up where I am supposed to be.
The truth is, we don't really have as much control over our waking hours as we think we do, and though we have more sway over them than we do our dreams, both lead us through twists and turns we hadn't planned for.
So I will leave my husband to dissect his dreams, while I blithely dismiss mine, focusing instead on
daydreams and messages encoded into daily events, both of which I'm much better at analyzing. And when I finally fall into bed at night, I won't feel deprived at all if I don't remember my dreams.
I'd much rather meet the real-life characters anyway.