Some years ago when I was still working on my novel The Birdcatcher, I read chapter IV aloud in a writer’s workshop. That is, the chapter where late at night Chris Stone reflects on his failing marriage and the hypocrisy of modern society, then falls asleep and has the dream of flying up the Song Cau valley in a helicopter.
When I finished, there was a dead silence. I could see in the faces around me a lot of resentment, probably because of Stone’s pessimistic, sceptical assessment of our world. But one woman spoke first, saying softly, “That was really beautiful.”
Then a more-opinionated woman stepped in. She said the dream was too real. It had too much detail. Real dreams, she said, are vague and confusing. The other members of the group all nodded their heads in agreement
I didn’t say anything – we weren’t there to discuss the nature of dreams – but inwardly I shook my head in dismay, for it was another sign of what I had long suspected – that most people have forgotten how to dream.
Stone’s dream was a real dream, lifted from my 1975 journal, a dream I had one night after watching the fall of Saigon on TV. To fit it into The Birdcatcher, I didn’t have to change much at all.
Your dreams aren’t as vague and confusing as you may think they are. Usually it’s only your memory of the dream that is vague.
Try visualizing everything you did yesterday. You’ll find that most of it is vague. But that doesn’t mean that the streets you were walking along, or the people you talked to were vague. They were there in their full reality. Well, dreams have their own reality too, outside of what you remember of them.
You can learn to be more aware in dreams – even be fully conscious in them (lucid dreaming), enough to be able to examine details of things around you.
No, your dreams don’t have to be vague and confusing. All you have to do is pay more attention to them and they will reward you, not only with more detail, but sometimes with the surprises that only dreams can produce.
The ending of Chris Stone’s dream is a perfect example of that. If you want to read it, here is a PDF with the full chapter four: