Originally posted July 27, 2010...
Apparently, we only use ten percent of our brain. This would explain why I put my keys in the fridge and try to lock up my apartment with a yogurt. Ten percent, though, that’s staggering! What’s the other ninety percent for? Skull-filler? Or is our whole brain full but we only use ten percent at any given time? I would hope the latter is true because if not, a whole lot of my ten percent is filled with useless information. Like all the words to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”, or long division, or the phone number to Empire Flooring in Michigan (1 800 588 2300 EMPIRE) because of those damn catchy commercials. This can’t be the best use of my brain power.
I’ve heard that our subconscious mind takes up the remaining space in our bean-counters, and while our brain can only process one thought at a time (as in: Why does that person in the window look familiar? Are they looking at me? Is that my reflection? That is me), our subconscious can hold five hundred thoughts simultaneously. That has to be how the rest of our brain is put to use. And at night when we dream, that’s our subconscious mind working stuff out. So if dreams are the work of our subconscious mind, and our subconscious mind takes up mega brainspace, correctly interpreting our dreams could unlock the awesome power of our mind. By the way, that conclusion was reached by way of something called the transitive property, which is another thing I don’t need to fucking know! Anyway…
Dream: To correctly and usefully interpret my dreams.
Goal: Achievable. Interpreting dreams is one of those things everyone thinks they know how to do, like opening a stubborn jar or disciplining someone else’s child (“I’ve got this, just let me try something.”) But I have the analytical skill, not to mention hours of drunken free time to devote to truly interpreting my dreams.
Plan: Analyze a dream and synthesize the data to come to powerful and shocking conclusions locked deep within my brain.
I had a pretty weird dream the other night. All of my male friends from high school are at my old house in Regina and it’s winter and I’m standing in the front yard, knee deep in snow. One by one, my friends file out of my house with their fathers and into their cars. Nobody else is with them, just father and son, getting into a car and driving away. Last out of the house is my friend Lewis with his father and my father. Lewis says, “We’re all going to my house. Everyone has to drive his father, but I am driving your father there because you can’t drive.” My father says, “You’re useless!” to me and laughs as he climbs into Lewis’ car.
“But what am I supposed to do?” I ask, as the car is about to drive away. Lewis leans out his window and points and says, “You can walk him to my house! Walk him there!” And he drives away. I look over to where he’s pointing and there’s Nelson Mandela, standing with quiet dignity in one of those African dashikis, also knee-deep in snow.
I run to the South African freedom fighter and humbly offer him my arm to begin our journey. While I am initially honored to be performing this task, it’s a stupid long walk and Nelson is not being at all cooperative. He keeps running into snow drifts and then making me drag him out, like a three year old. And I keep pleading with him to please stay close to me because otherwise he’ll get hurt. And I keep referring to him as “Dr. Mandela.” “Dr. Mandela, please, you’ll slip and fall. Please come back here so we can go to Lewis’, Dr. Mandela.” And that’s all I remember.
Okay, what can we learn from this? First of all, I must know in the back of my mind that Nelson Mandela was awarded an honorary doctorate of some kind, or maybe he’s a real doctor (a quick Google search of Dr. Nelson Mandela reveals 14, 000, ooo results, so I must be right). But what about the rest of it? The all-male casting of the dream? My high school friends and their fathers? Driving? Snow? Possible conclusions:
1) I yearn to be part of the “Boys Club” I often felt excluded from as a child. Not being sporty or adventurous, I never quite “got” the father/son activities the other kids enjoyed with their Dads. I remember once my Dad bought us tickets for a hockey game, and I tried to take a paperback with me the night of “just in case I got bored.” My father’s disappointment was palpable, and no matter how much interest I feigned that night at the hockey stadium (is that what they’re called?), I could tell that he could tell that my heart wasn’t in it.
2) Driving is treacherous. The doomed-to-fail student driver I was at 17 has morphed into impossibly neurotic backseat driver I am at 27. If Jon and I perish in a car accident one day, know that it was probably my fault and pray that Jon lived a few minutes longer than me so he could sit in a car without me fretting for two goddamn minutes. We hardly drive in the city because transit is so much easier, parking is impossible and insurance rates are ridiculous, but when we have to drive out of the city (like our recent trip to a family gathering in Newmarket), I start engaging in hardcore neurotica. “We’re supposed to turn right in ten kilometres! Shouldn’t you be in a different lane? Look at that red car, what’s he doing? What’s he doing over there? How fast are you going, Jon? What are you thinking about? Do you love me still?” Ugh. It’s the worst.
3) I’m not racist, but I must be kinda. Without even examining the symbolism of losing Nelson Mandela in drifts of white snow, how come it’s my job to lead him? Like he needs leading anywhere, least of all from me. Plus, he doesn’t listen to me in the dream, he keeps running off. Maybe I’m calling him doctor because I find his philosophies prescriptive. (I don’t know what that means, I just like the phrasing of that sentence). And I worry that the time and attention I devote to proving I’m not prejudiced must make me prejudiced in some way. Like the other day, these two black guys came into the store in big bulky jackets (despite the 30 degree heat), headed for the most expensive stuff, and started just shuffling around, like they were waiting for something. My manager said, “Maybe keep an eye on those guys.” And I got all huffy and said, “I’m not going to “keep an eye on” them just because they’re…” and by the time I had finished spelling “African Canadian”, they set off the security alarm and bolted out of the store. Point being, rather than see two suspicious people walk into the store, all I saw were two black people. I noticed their race before anything else. Doesn’t that, by definition, make me a racist? Or at least a bad retail employee?
Maybe there’s nothing concrete to be learned from our dreams. And maybe the subconscious mind is sub-conscious for a reason. Once we can consciously conceive of our subconscious, it no longer exists. And maybe ninety percent of our brain is left untouched because no matter what time in our lives, there’s so much more we can learn. So much more we need to know.