Dreams and Our Waking Lives by Nafisa Shehu

What do dreams tell us about our lives and our wellbeing? Many times they collect up our unprocessed experiences and present us with the sum total of the emotional and physical challenges we are refusing to acknowledge in our lives. 

After a trying week with missed deadlines, staffing issues, health problems and family bombshells I had a dream one early morning, part of which has stuck with me.

I was in a shop, perhaps a chemist and I was second to be served. Somehow the next person was served before me. It happened a few times with subsequent people who entered the shop, leaving me incredulous. I suddenly realised that the counter seemed very high, although everyone else seemed to be able to reach the top and be seen but somehow I could manage neither of these things. Strangely, the other customers did not appear to be unusually taller than me and the counter had certainly not appeared to be gigantic when I entered the shop. By now a queue had formed and I knew I should be served next. Not wishing to be missed again, I spotted a low stool and stood on it. Now I was the same height as everyone else and I could see the shop assistant below in a lilac top. For some reason that colour detail is very strong in my mind. She had already managed to ask the person to the right of me for their order and was about to get it for them. I became incensed because I was seemingly no longer just too short but invisible. I called out, “Excuse me!” My voice was quieter than I thought it would be and clearly not loud enough for the assistant to hear as she was still walking away, although the others in the queue turned and looked at me, puzzled. I really was worked up by now and gathering all my strength called out “Excuse me, you in the purple top!” at which point the shop assistant turned and looked around as if seeing me for the first time and with a facial expression implying I had to wait my turn. For the first time ever that I can recall, I woke myself up shouting, “I need to get served! I’ve been here ages!” As I shouted, the realisation that it was a dream and that I had said those words out loud dawned on me while the other details of the dream faded and I lay there with my heart racing from the effort it had taken to get the shop assistant’s attention. 

After a guided meditation to calm me down, I began to reflect on what the dream could be revealing. I reflected on that sense of unreachable work goals despite over working, the feeling of invisibility often linked to age both culminating in frustration that takes a toll on health and overall emotional wellbeing. I realised that often the subconscious, through our dreams can call us to take action. 

What about the colour purple? That’s another, much deeper matter all together.

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