Humanity’s great uniting characteristic is that we all have a passionate interest in our own dreams but absolutely no desire to hear about anyone else’s. I think I know why this is, and it’s not just because we’re self-centered—our excitement about our own dreams is more intense than our general level of self-interest.
Many of our most genuine emotional experiences happen in dreams, but this is kind of a weird thing to admit out loud. Everyone’s woken up and wished that things felt so real when we were truly awake and then immediately buried that thought because of its potential creepiness: like Albus Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” We’re afraid that if we acknowledge how powerful our dreams are we’re somehow disrespecting ‘real life.’
I think we’re driven to tell other people about our dreams, even though they don’t want to listen, because we want someone else to legitimize the way our dreams feel and give us hope that those emotions exist in the waking world. That’s a weightier issue than ordinary human self-centeredness.
But dreams don’t need to be legitimized. It certainly doesn’t detract from our time awake to recognize their substance. Again, Dumbledore knows, saying of dreams, “Of course it is happening inside your head…but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” The mere fact that dreams make us feel a certain way and that the certain way exists at all is proof of its validity.
In this way dreams are a glimpse at our potential. They show us that there is more to emotion that we’ve yet experienced, just like there’s more to color than what the human eye can see. We don’t have a way to see light outside the visible spectrum, but we do have a window into purer and odder emotions that we find in everyday life.
So believe that your dreams are legitimate—you’ll feel better and nobody else will have to hear about them.