Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dreams by Decade

I used to keep a dream diary with a great amount of dedication. Some recent dreams caused me to wonder how the dreams I've been having lately would compare with those I had twenty years ago. And so, I opted to make a chart of the people who have shown up in my dreams over the course of years each separated by a decade.

The years I chose were 1991, 2001, and 2011. This posed a few problems, however. So far, in 2011, I've recorded seven dreams. In 2001, I recorded none. And in 1991, I recorded something like one hundred (I was indeed dedicated). So clearly that wasn't going to work. I did the best I could, by choosing instead of 2001 the year 1999. That year, I recorded three dreams. And instead of all of 1991, I chose to record review only the nine dreams from July of that year. Hence, the decades are now more on an equal par.

I don't know why I should have been surprised, but the people in the dreams varied too much for me to actually chart them by name, with lots of folks only showing up once. Folks who showed up most frequently back in July 1991 included my mom, my friend/coworker/former high school classmate Mike, and my boss Dorothy. A girl I had a crush on at the time only showed up in two dreams that month. No one showed up more than once in any of the dreams for 1999 or 2011.

So I needed a different strategy. I opted to break the dream people into categories. Certainly, some of the categories are kind of a judgment call. Take, for example, Mike. Do I stick him under high school, work, or friend? I opted in such cases to place a person under the category where I first became most familiar with the person, so Mike went under high school (though in the dreams that month, he was most often at work).

Here's how the categories break down for each of the three years chosen.



I suppose some might be interested in the celebrity category. The celebrities to show up in the July 1991 dreams were Will Smith (who was still the Fresh Prince at the time) and Dave Letterman. And in 1999, it was Alex Trebek.

So what is interesting to me about these charts is the way in which the things my dreams obsess about has changed. In 1991, even though high school was three years behind me, classmates from that period still figured most prominently. Relatives and coworkers also did. I dreamed a lot about work, as I worried a lot about it as well.

In 1999, my church was going through some large changes still, and so many of my thoughts revolved around that. By then high school no longer featured so prominently, though strangely, grad school, finished two years before, now was showing up.

In 2011, church seems even bigger, but I can say, from looking over the dreams, that actually few people I know have shown up in dreams this year, which skewers the stats significantly. Most dreams (four of seven) involved complete strangers. Interestingly, high school has left the mix completely, and even work isn't showing up.

But in all years over the decades, relatives show up with some frequency, even though I have little contact with my family compared to 1991.

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