Last night, two very unusual things happened. Unusual because they haven’t happened in a long time. I had a dream and I actually remembered it.
Remember that dream where you show up to class and discover that you have an exam that you completely forgot about? It’s a pretty common anxiety dream that a lot of people continue to have even after they leave school. I used to have them all the time but I hadn’t had one in the decade or so after I graduated college. Until last night.
But last night’s dream had a slight twist. In previous dreams, I show up to class totally oblivious to the fact that I have an exam that day. It always comes as a surprise. In last night’s dream, however, I was in the middle of finals so I knew of the exams. I had just been putting off studying, planning to do it “tomorrow”, i.e., the night before the exam. I got the days mixed up, however, and the exam ended up being a day earlier than I had thought. So I came to class on the day of the exam, not having studied or prepared for it in any way. I don’t remember how I did but I remember I had to answer three out of however many questions. I think I nailed two but the third was about something I’d never seen or read about.
Normally, whenever I had this particular anxiety dream, I’d be stressed out throughout the exam and I’d wake up and heave a sigh of relief that it was all only a dream. This time, however, I felt nothing beyond a slight and short-lived feeling of embarassment at having walked into an examination hall totally unaware that an exam had been scheduled for that day and completely unprepared for the exam at hand. Once the embarassment passed, I felt strangely confident that I would pass anyway, despite my lack of preparation. On one hand, this could be interpreted as optimism, a sentiment I’m not normally given to. It could mean that I have faith that things will turn out OK in the end, regardless of my own efforts. But on the other hand, it’s more likely that this dream points to a general feeling of apathy. The fact that I didn’t care about my exams and didn’t bother to make an effort to prepare might all indicate a deeper belief that no amount of effort or lack of thereof will change the eventual outcome of anything.