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I wanted to relate a recurrent dream I’ve had, which has replaced my old recurrent dream in the last five years. The old one is familiar to many academics, and involves being late for a class or an exam, or being in an exam and not having studied for it. I had that dream every week or so for decades after college. I later learned that my old Ph.D. advisor, Dick Lewontin, had it every night. Other academics have told me of such dreams as well, which shows that a). dreams are not completely meaningless, and b). we’ve internalized the anxiety that comes along with being a teacher and a professor, and that’s expressed in our dreams. Or so I think.
But I no longer have “college dreams”. Rather, I have a dream related to the “can’t-find-the-exam-room” dream. In this one, I’m in one locality and have to get to another one, and am severely time limited. Sometimes I’m with someone (usually a woman I don’t know), but often not. Last night I was alone somewhere in New York City, but it was a city with very narrow, twisted streets, all confusing, and I had to get to Grand Central Station by a certain time. (I have no idea why.) I kept trying to make my way there, but kept getting lost. One time I found myself in a miniature suburbia, complete with cute houses, lawns, and picket fences, occupying a single street in the city. Then I found myself in a Chinatown, with narrow streets filled with Chinese restaurants.
In none of these dreams do I ever make it to my destination; I always wake up knowing that I didn’t make it on time. In this way the dreams resemble the “frustration dreams” involving exams and classes.
What does this mean? Beats me.
If you have a recurring dream—and I’m sure many of you do—by all means share it with us.