LIKE MOST COLUMNISTS, I am involved in a perpetual search for subject matter. I rarely know, from day to day, what I’m going to write about next. Some of my best ideas come in dreams, but the frustrating thing is that I very rarely can remember my dreams.
While I’m having my dreams, I think to myself what a marvelous idea this is. How my readers are going to love this one. It’s funny, it’s smart, it’s full of useful tips — this is a columnist’s dream column. And then, poof! it disappears as soon as I wake up. Can’t remember a darned thing about it, except that it was astoundingly good.
I once had the idea of keeping a notebook and pen on my bedside table so I could wake up and write down the details of my dream while it was still fresh in my mind. The results were startling. The wonderfully creative thoughts that had passed through my sleeping mind were absolute driveling gibberish when examined next morning in the stark light of day. Nothing made any sense.
Once or twice, toward dawn, I have awakened so gradually that my waking mind was still attached to my sleeping mind, and there was a partial transfer of creative thought that actually made sense. I can’t say either of those dreams was spectacularly helpful in writing a column, but at least they weren’t gibberish.
My intuition tells me that I dream about boats a lot. I’m sure I design brilliant boats and sail them perfectly. I bet I win lots of races and cruise to exotic places and wear smart yacht club blazers and attract the attention and adoration of lovely women wherever I go.
And, talking about women, I don’t know for sure, because I never can remember, but I expect I dream about women just as often as boats. Most men do, I’m told. Nice women, of course, modest, wholesome women equipped with the highest moral standards, clever, interesting women known as much for their brains and character as their looks.
Admittedly, a bad woman may have crept into my dreams now and then. Some kind of wicked hussy. I have no way to confirm or deny it and I couldn’t stop it even if I wanted to. But if that happened, it’s not my fault. I plead innocent. I’m not in charge of my dreams and I don’t know who is. Furthermore, I am not responsible for my actions in my dreams. Actually I don’t even know what bad women do. Well, to tell the truth, maybe I do have a vague idea of what they do. But I’m not sure, because if they did it, I’ll never know what it was. I’m just not capable of remembering it.
Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.
— Dr. William C. Dement
Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #128
Distance from lights. Never try to judge your distance from a single point of light at sea at night. It provides no clue by which our perceptions can judge its size and distance with any accuracy. In most cases, when the light becomes visibly nearer, you are in immediate danger of running into it.
“Who was that girl I seen you out with last night?”
“You mean ‘I saw.’”
“Oh, right. Who was that eyesore I seen you out with last night?”
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for a new Mainly about Boats column.)