The recurring dream I used to have

Years ago when I lived in San Francisco I used to have two versions of the same recurring dream about a tsunami hitting me.


In the first version of the dream the tidal waves would wash me off of the Bay Bridge as I attempted to escape from San Francisco before they reached shore. At the time I drove a very tiny silver Mazda 323 and I’d be washed off that bridge like an errant bean gets sprayed off a dirty plate. Before I could be tumbled into a raging ocean where I’d die by being crushed or by drowning I’d wake up in a panic.


San Francisco's Bay Bridge


In the second version of the dream I lived in a house right on the beach and the waves would rise up until they were hitting my windows and sliding glass doors. I’d watch them hit higher and higher until my house was under water and I was trapped inside it.


Those are both anxiety dreams and they pretty accurately express how I experience anxiety, as rising waves of worry that make it hard for me to breathe. And when I’m tense I tend not to breathe very deeply, if at all, sometimes holding my breath until I realize I’m light headed.


Even as these dreams would scare me silly I was also always fascinated by the raw power and beauty of the waves. As they’d come at me, my doom assured, I couldn’t help but watch them with awe and excitement. Weird, I know.

Since leaving San Francisco I haven’t had these dreams, but they’ve remained so clear and real in my mind, that today, years later, I’m making them the subject of a blog. Tsunamis are such a large and destructive force that there really is no stopping them. All you can do is enjoy the view, even though it’s likely the last view you will ever see. I equate the dreams with the way I still get overcome and awed by massive and overwhelming undertakings.

And that’s where I find myself at the start of week 3 of National Novel Writing Month. The 50,000 words seem do-able if daunting, but once you get into it you realize the huge breadth of writing involved. At this point I feel confident saying that I’m unlikely to finish by the November 30 deadline but I have gotten a great start on a novel and I am going to finish it. I have a great foundation and a great start and those are 2 things that I wouldn’t have right now without this fantastic jump starter.

Now I will watch in fascination as the story grows before my eyes and overcomes me, as stories always do. Though it might not hit completion by November 3o I know it will get there.


3 comments on “The recurring dream I used to have

  1. I used to have a similar one…I’m sure anxiety driven too. I had to drive up to Tahoe with the divider on one side of my tiny car, and a huge semi swerving into my lane on the other side. When I pulled over, I was at Niagra Falls, and had to cross on a rope bridge that was about 5 feet in front of the falls and the pressure of the water spray was swaying the bridge until I woke up. Stopped having it too.

    Dreams suck! πŸ™‚

  2. When I was little (7th grade) an undertow pulled me WAY out into deep water. The beach rapidly became far away, a strand with tiny distant people on it. It was horrifying. Off season, no life guard. I swam parallel to the beach the way I had learned in Boy Scouts and sure enough I became free of the undertow and was able to make my way back along the stone breakers. At the beach I couldn’t get to my feet I sort of washed up and crawled into a stunned catatonic exhaustion. Since then, on occasion, I have this nightmare where I am treading in dark placid water and then some hidden force will snatch my ankle and drag me down into the deep. As I plummet like an anchor, I attack the grip and get myself free, but by then I am about a hundred yards deep. I start swimming for the surface, but I know I am screwed. Then I wake up. πŸ™‚

  3. Those dreams are scary.

    Colin – I’m glad you didn’t drown when you got pulled into the undertow!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: