Sarah A. Odishoo


The brain in sleep deactivates every ninety minutes. The paradox of sleep is that it affects our body though it is completely detached from it. That is, the brain is no part of the body. It is a virtual reality stimulator and uses conscious images the body experiences in the physical world around it to reproduce a new reality in stories called "dreams."

I can't remember the dream itself, but it had something to do with my lover, and the last words I hear before waking are these: "You see, when what you feel on the inside is reflected on the outside, in the world, that's when you are happiest. That's why love is so important. It reflects you in the world the way you are inside."

That three-pound universe creates the dreams through the body's experiences and imagination. It's not unconsciousness we occupy in dreams, it is what precedes unconsciousness. It is a state of knowing the unknown, and the language of comparison and representation is directed at the heart—the center of Love pumping through the veins of the mind.

It's the first day of spring, and I have a baseball jacket I'm carrying. I love it, it has Mickey Mouse on it, and it's green. I'm inside a house, in the kitchen where there's a potbellied stove. I accidentally brush the jacket against the stove, and it burns up.

A voice says: "You must get rid of Mickey's mantle. You need to get a writer's address, a right dress, a writer's dress, a right address."


Dreams are a healthy experience with a distorted physical reality, visions that use the conscious mind's experiences and vocabulary to send coded messages only the dreamer will understand. And the more denied the messages are or misunderstood, the more emotion is used and the sense of dislocation to arouse the desire in the dreamer to know its meaning.

In dreams, we see what isn't there in reality. All dreams, according to psychologists and psychiatrists, are a psychotic state in reality. Dreams suppress the body's muscle tone and all the sensory antennae our bodies use to a paralysis, while in the dream we are active. In our bodies, we can't move, scream, or try to awaken. The eyes are the only part outside the brain that are actively responding to the dream while the body is mostly paralyzed and in a trance. That condition is known as rapid eye movement (REM).

I'm coming out of the front door of my building. Outside the door in a raccoon fur coat with hook-and-eye buttons is my lover in sunglasses. He yells, "Hey, babe!"

My heart pounds, my mouth goes dry, I know he has come to see if I will take him back. His hair and the fur of the coat are the same color.

The transitions to sleep and then to dream are surreal transitions—one state of mind to another—like a movie with alternate realities. In the dream itself, logic has its own laws. It is not the logic of reality.

The message I interpreted from that dream was that my lover was disguised as an animal, a raccoon, the mask—his sunglasses, the fur—to guard against the cold, and his penchant for many females. Raccoons "forage" for females. His desire would never be consummated. The dream's message: Be afraid of the addiction to desire.

Desire is a stimulus and a motivation to help you move, break up habits, patterns. What you get when you desire are the aftereffects of movement—not the object of desire, but the obscure and unknown fallout of the heat of desire. If you are addicted to desire, when you get the object of desire, you do not hunger. It's the hunger that arouses, not the object of desire.


Dreams use symbols to make you feel their reality: falling and waking up before hitting solid ground, flying, instinctual acts of fearing, desiring, fighting, fleeing, and forgetting where you are and where you are going, language that is mundane and quixotic, sometimes silly and meaningless. But it's what you, just you, associate with that image that is the key. You already have the emotions that surround the "meaningless," and those emotions have to be searched to understand the "silly" dream.

I'm in a shop run by hippies, a head shop? It's in the basement. All around me are boxes containing beads and things. The song that's going through my mind is "Buttons and Bows."

"East is east and west is west and the wrong one I have chose/Let's go where I'll keep on wearin'/Those frills and flowers and buttons and bows..."

As for the meaning of the words, I was being directed to what's inside, deep, and real. I was supposed to be revealing the true direction—East is East... And what I felt in the basement—the head shop—was that I had put my "head" in the lowest part of the house of my body, and I needed to revitalize that thinking by wearing the head's buttons and bows...its gemstones.


Then there is the dream within a dream, the limitless nature of the dream, afraid that all reality is simply entering one dream after another after another, and getting lost in the multiple realities that are nonexistent, unreal, or simply missing pieces of a whole one can never assess.

I'm in a large room, kind of like a war strategy room, where there is a platform above me, and I'm sitting at a computer where I'm supposed to type in responses to questions. There is a woman sitting next to me, asking me questions.

She asks, "What's this Life like?"

I start to type on this keyboard as if I will be able to tell her what this life is like, but the keyboard has no keys, really. I'm supposed to know where the keys are and what they mean. But as I look at the keyboard, what I see is an aerial view of all of nature—trees, rivers, streams, fish, animals, birds chirping—on the keyboard as if the view were the keys. I say and then type, "Maze." But then I recant. "That's not the right answer."

"Okay. Electric validation," she says.

I type it in.

The woman next to me says, "No, no, no. Indirect Electric Validation Required Daily."

But the man on the platform who is supposed to notify the Board says, "She's okay."

The woman next to me says, "Can I see you outside, please? We have to talk."


The important thing in this dream was the answer I gave: maze. A labyrinth may be the best metaphor I can construct for this Life's reality. Inside the maze one does not have a clue as to the twists and turns it takes. But outside looking in you see the design. Ariadne's thread is clue to coming into the maze and being able to leave. That path in has to be remembered to find one's way out. And Electric Required Daily may be our brain's inkling to the path. However, the proviso of "Indirect" Electric Validation means that the confirmation will not come clearly; it will be unforeseen, unintended, and incidental. Without daily revisiting, without the idea of value of day-to-day interrogation of the events, no matter how minor or insignificant, your search for meaning will have to look for it in every act. In the same way we experience dreams and their physical and psychological presence as meaningful, so, too, the everyday life's ordinary events have the depth of meaning available, indirectly to the mind's eye.


The irony is that dreams are real experiences to the mind. Although emotion takes place in the mind, the mind is not under the control of the conscious mind. The conscious mind is kind of like watching yourself in a movie, a distorted perception, and imprisoned by your own distortions, you can only see what you see, the isolated perception of the dreamer and the shared perception by the awakened dreamer. So if you have visions or aspirations of who or what you want to be or to learn, your dream will lead you to its meaning.

I am in a large square in a great city, Australia, Russia, maybe even Italy, in front of the Vatican. I'm not sure. There are many people. I am and I'm not this foreign woman in a winter coat. She looks like Sophia Loren. I walk up to a man; he's a famous man—Carl Jung, I think. He wants to talk to me, to say something to me. But I can't talk to him. I do not have anything on my head. I run away. People run after her to bring her back. She meets a man, grabs her scarf, a wool one, unfolds it, and throws it over her head. She is returning so that she may talk to the saintly man. I felt honored that this was an important meeting. I was going to find out something I needed to know.

Those alternate realities are already in the conscious mind, surrounding us in everything and everywhere. Gamers are we, empowered by alternative realities, images of a holy, peaceful world, a model of reality, not reality itself, but the possibilities of one.

In this dream, I am both myself and other, two ways of seeing. I am foreign and not, I am beautiful and I am not. I have an opportunity to talk to Carl Jung, an important man in my literary and psychological life, but a dead man, in a holy city. I don't have the sacred response, a covering for my head. Until I am prepared to understand that I must submit to the holy spiritual through the intellectual, I will not be able to "stand under" the knowledge that both can give me. I recognize finally that I have to have hope in both ways of seeing.


Dreams are perceptions free of conscious constraints because they are images that are illusions, artifice. Like your thoughts, dreams create and destroy realities in milliseconds. And a dream is freest and realer the longer it lasts. Deconstructing a dream, that is, identifying the meaning you give to those symbols, is awakening to the meaning you have given the "real" experience in your life.

I am in the living room, and I have just received a package from a woman, a next-door neighbor. It is a scrapbook from my lover. In it are pictures cut out of magazines and pasted in the handmade scrapbook bound with a string.

On the first page is a kitchen table, but inside the page are three red napkins, a candlestick, and two wineglasses. I hear his voice as I open each page.

He says, "When you have wine, spread the red napkin on the bar in front of the back window. Put the candlestick there and light it, then pour yourself a glass of wine because that's what I would do if I were there with you. We would have wine and look at the woods out of your window."

The next page is a living room without a Christmas tree, but there are boxes of toys lined up on the floor as if there were a tree there. All the toys are toys I wanted as a child: dolls, train sets, clowns, windup toys, tennis rackets, basketballs, baseball bats, mitts, balls, chemistry sets, camera, shoes, pink and red ballet shoes, tutus.

The voice over the picture says, "These are the presents I've always wanted to give you. They are here in my house waiting for you. Come home."

On the third page is a large wooden bed with an Oriental cover and Oriental pillows covering the headboard. The voiceover says, "This is our toy...we can play here to match your heart's content. Come home. I'm waiting. I've been waiting a long time."

I look up, and I am terribly happy. The woman is eyeing me suspiciously and with envy.


Both women are me. I grew up suspicious of being happy; at the same time, I always anticipated getting what I wanted. What I know now is the "woman eyeing me" can't take away the happiness I feel when I am feeling the gifts of Love. And my lover awakened the necessary desire to see it in all of Life.


Dreams are the other universe we occupy in our mind's eye. Infinite, ubiquitous, universal images are created nightly by each dreamer of an alternate reality with meaningful contexts. Out of necessity, we must return nightly to "see" the unseen, and misunderstand, and return again to get to the source of what we are here to know and to understand that which has already been seeded in us: Love. Dream On.

Sarah Odishoo is a poet and writer. Her essay "Germane German: A Lesson in Dispelling," has been nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize by Under The Sun. "Euclid's Bride" was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, and "Red and Wolf: A Fibonacci Sequence" will be in print with Amazon Press in late 2015.

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