What are your re-occurring dreams?
December 16, 2003 1:47 PM   Subscribe

I'm curious what other people's re-occurring dreams may be, or at least the ones you are willing to share with total strangers.

For me, it's rather banal. I keep forgetting to bring my shorts and t-shirt for high-school gym class.
posted by machaus to Religion & Philosophy (71 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. For some reason, I'm moving back into my undergrad dorm out in the Minnesotan hinterlands; I'm unprepared for class, and I'm really nervous.

2. My band is about to play a show and some crucial piece of equipment is missing or malfunctioning.

3. I'm a teenager again, my family is about to move to another town and I don't like it.

4. One or both of my cats can talk, and they sound like Satan.

I can count on having at least 2 of these every week, often merged together in weird ways.
posted by COBRA! at 1:53 PM on December 16, 2003

I have had recurring themes such as being interrupted whilst sitting on the toilet, unable to find a particular item at the grocery store, and screaming at my father.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:53 PM on December 16, 2003

I have a recurring dream which I know now is very common and was even alluded to above:

You are in some kind of academic environment. You have just found out that some class you signed up for is about to have a big test/assignment etc. The problem is you have never been to class! Whats worse is you are not even sure where this class meets or at what time!
posted by vacapinta at 1:57 PM on December 16, 2003

I have a re-occurring dream that I am still an undergrad and fail to graduate in any number of horrifying ways. One example: I am at my last final for my last class which I need to graduate, I take this test with 15 questions and each question is worth 2 points. I hand in the thing and get it back almost instantaneously; next to each numbered question in thin red ink are scores like -6 -5 -6 and so on. Not only did I fail that mofo, but I got a negative score.

Last night, however, I had a dream I was in a three-some with an attractive rich couple from the Hamptons. I woke up this morning holding my knee to my chest. Totally. Unexplainable.
posted by Ms.JaneDoe at 1:57 PM on December 16, 2003

I keep having these dreams every few months, or some variation on their themes:

1. teeth falling out
2. I'll be getting chased, but I can only run in slow motion (everyone else moves at normal speed). I usually wake up before getting caught, but sometimes I'm caught and I wake up screaming.
3. a bunch of weird memory dreams of places I've been as a kid but sometimes they're weird settings that I end up in months or years later.
posted by mathowie at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2003

I have two not actually recurring dreams, but recurring "types" of dreams. First, dreams in which I'm either in an airplane or in an airport. I would estimate I have a flying-related dream at least once a week. Sometimes there's a problem during the flight (and on at least a couple of occasions the plane crashed, or I saw another plane crash), but most of the time I'm just waiting for a flight or sitting on a plane.

More recently, I've had a number of dreams where I'm staying someplace -- a hotel, maybe, or a resort or rental home -- with a large group of people I know. Sometimes it's work related, and sometimes it's a vacation. But they all revolve around the place I'm staying. I have no fucking clue why I have either of these dreams.

(on preview, I've also had the "taking a test for a class I never attended" and "running in slow motion" dreams).
posted by pardonyou? at 2:01 PM on December 16, 2003

I'm entering Interstate 90 from the Factoria (Seattle suburb) on ramp, I'm driving somebody else's sports car, I don't know how to even drive, and I'm holding a palmful of cocaine up to my nose as I accelerate.

And without fail, I am always disappointed when I realize it's a dream. I've probably had it, or a variation of it, once a month for the last 10 years.
posted by vito90 at 2:01 PM on December 16, 2003

I used to have the teeth-falling-out dream. That, and the car-without-brakes dream. Then I got divorced, and both stopped. Now I wake myself up laughing far more often than I have nightmares. Seriously. I don't think it's a coincidence.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:02 PM on December 16, 2003

3 most frequent:
1) travelling. a mix of memories from trips I have taken in the past or places i would like to go.

2) freshman year, dorms. consists of partying hard, meeting new people, sexual frustration and general mischief.

3) homicide. either I or a friend of mine as intentionally or accidentally killed someone. sometimes, we/I try to hide the body, sometimes the killer stalks me next. wouldn't be so weird execpt that it happens almost as often as the other two dreams.

sometimes these are their own dreams, sometimes they are mixed. often, they include being able to fly and breathing underwater.
posted by Hackworth at 2:05 PM on December 16, 2003

The location and plot always change, but I have recurring dreams of being able to levitate. Invariably, in the middle of the dream, I "remember" how to do it. It involves a combination of concentrating, letting my feet go, and hanging, as if from threads. The sensation of this talent coming back to me is always a rush. I've had the dream so many times now, and as time goes on I have greater control over my movement. It's a slow, steady float, perhaps more accurately described as walking on air. It's damn frustrating. At this point I can practically feel the same weightless lurch, the same tense suspension, even when I'm awake, but try as I may, my feet won't leave the ground.

That, and running forever without getting tired, and swimming underwater and being able to breathe.
posted by scarabic at 2:05 PM on December 16, 2003

I have three recurring themes:

1. A test for which I haven't studied, or even shown up to the class.

2. A felliniesque party with everyone i know.

3. I'm trying to coordinate some sort of trip, either across country, overseas, or an escape, but can't get everyone to meet up at the same time, and the day drags on with less and less time to get moving.
posted by condour75 at 2:09 PM on December 16, 2003

I don't have any interesting recurring dreams to relate (just the standard appearing-in-public-naked-or-underdressed, though in a variety of situations), but I wanted to let everybody know, especially those who have recurring nightmares, that anything you've already identified as recurring in your dreams is a viable lucidity cue, a kind that LaBerge calls a Dreamsign. This is worth knowing, because you can use the info (i.e. watching for one of your recurring situations to happen "in the real world") to become lucid - especially in your nightmares and try to address the psychic source of your anxiety in the realm in which it operates, but drawing on your conscious knowledge that the "real" situation that has been causing fear is actually "unreal" and you need not fear it.
posted by soyjoy at 2:09 PM on December 16, 2003

Apparently the teeth-falling-out dream indicates that you're scared of losing your friends. I'm no expert in these things put I've had enough friends into dream interpretations to have heard that a thousand times.

I rarely have dreams (or rather, rarely recall them) however I remember a very vivid dream where I watched a guy in a grotty old kitchen cutting the top of his head off and then welding it back on with an old gas stove. Fuck knows what that indicates.
posted by dodgygeezer at 2:11 PM on December 16, 2003

Lucid dream where I'm Spider Man. It's as awesome as it sounds.
posted by will at 2:17 PM on December 16, 2003


A guy who looks like Lou Reed rings my buzzer and tries to give me Jesus pamphelets. I say that I don't want them. He tells me that my street is radioactive and tries to give me pills.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:18 PM on December 16, 2003

Here's mine.
posted by pomegranate at 2:18 PM on December 16, 2003

I'm dressed in Sun God robes and thousands of women are throwing little pickles at me....

Similar to Scarabic's dream, I put myself into a sitting position (without a chair) and I can levitate. In the dream, I have to try it once or twice until I get it right, then I'm able to move anywhere, a foot or two off the ground. It also doesn't seem to be that big a deal, like anyone can do it whenever they want to, but I'm always the only one doing it.

Another one is where I'm back in school between classes. Not only can I not remember my locker combination, I can't even remember which locker is mine. Since I can't remember, I decide that it's not that important or I would have remembered.
posted by joaquim at 2:21 PM on December 16, 2003

When I was a kid, I used to have this weird recurring dream involving a train, a giant tree with a house in it, a scientist in a wheelchair, and a water-musical number involving a troupe of Tiggers (like from Winnie the Pooh). I'd always wake up just as the musical number finished, which is why it's the only part of the dream that I remember concrete details for now. Strangely enough, I'd only ever have the dream just before I was going on a trip to visit my grandmother in Arizona. This lasted for years - I don't remember if I always had the dream before going to visit her, but it was common enough that I recognized the pattern. She died, and I've never had the dream since.

These days, I'm studying a lot of Japanese, so my most common recurring dream is the one where everybody speaks Japanese. Oddly enough, it's not an anxiety dream, because I can understand everything, and I can speak much more naturally than I can when I'm awake. Very nice, but more than a little disappointing when I do wake up.
posted by vorfeed at 2:24 PM on December 16, 2003

You are in some kind of academic environment. You have just found out that some class you signed up for is about to have a big test/assignment etc. The problem is you have never been to class!

Mine exactly! I used to have it maybe 3 times a year for a few years, but then I got to the point where I would remember that it was only a dream - while I was still dreaming - and I'd shrug and get out of it. Now if the dream starts it doesn't 'stick' - it just morphs into something completely different as soon as I recognize the situation.

Wonder what that says about me?
posted by widdershins at 2:26 PM on December 16, 2003

I used to have recurring dreams of being captured by Indians and taken to their village. Now I have occasional dreams of terrible car wrecks. But what annoys me the most are the dreams about work, I hate when work even invades my sleep!
posted by Lynsey at 2:27 PM on December 16, 2003

Oh, does anyone else dream in serials? I frequently have dreams that pick up where another left off after a slight 'recap' of the previous dream. Pretty cool, I always thought.
posted by widdershins at 2:29 PM on December 16, 2003

In my dreams, I have figured out the trick to flying, or at least floating. Contrary to Douglas Adams, the trick is not to throw yourself at the ground and miss. The process is as follows:

1) Take all your weight off your left foot.
2) Carefully, without putting any weight back onto your left foot, take all your weight off your right foot too.

Easy as pie. Once you've taken your weight off your feet, you can just sort of pull your legs up, and there you are, floating in mid-air.
posted by kindall at 2:30 PM on December 16, 2003

I've had dreams where one dream stops and another one begins, and in the middle of the second dream I start trying to figure out ways to get back to the first -- fully aware that I am, in fact, in a dream state. I would file that under reoccurring and serial; it's happened several times and if I am successful at getting back to the first dream I usually 'recap' and then get back to business.
posted by Ms.JaneDoe at 2:34 PM on December 16, 2003

I also get the slow motion thing. Most vivid time was when I was the commander of a mech and was in battle with other mechs. The whole thing happened on my property; I still remember where the ammo and health caches were. At the end, I was fleeing on foot after having ejected from my burning mech, but I kept moving slower and slower until the other mechs were right behind me; I woke up sweating and very tense.

Anyway, to get to the point, the most frequent reoccuring dream I have is one where I'm flying very, very, very high up (I can't make out anything on the ground). The beginning is always good and lasts a variable amount of time. Sooner or later though, it's as if I suddenly forgot how to fly. I fall and fall and fall all while screaming. I see the ground get closer until I recognize my house, and I always end up landing flat on my back on my bed (when I moved 8 years ago or so, my house in the dream changed too). I always wake up after this dream on my back, breathing fast, and sweating. It's actually kinda fun, although it's never lucid.

Unfortunately, I haven't been regularly dreaming (or at least remembering any dreams I have) for a while and it really disturbs/annoys me. (Any ideas why?)
posted by thebabelfish at 2:38 PM on December 16, 2003

It's been a while since I had any of these, but:

1. When I was three or four I had a recurring nightmare about a cartoon boat with an evil grin that was following me down the banks of a river.

2. In junior high I had a recurring nightmare that I was trying to stop a 50-foot bowling ball from hitting 6-inch pins.

3. Interspersed throughout my life, I've had a dream in which I jump very high, and find that I can control my descent. Not quite flying, but maybe the Douglas Adams version of it.

More recently, two or three itmes a year, I'll have one of those pre-waking up dreams that seem extraordinarily real. I often have to strongly convince myself that it didn't really happen.
posted by o2b at 2:45 PM on December 16, 2003

1. Trying to make a phone call and being repeatedly unable to dial the number or complete the call.

2. Tornadoes. (Not so much anymore, but for years I had tons of tornado dreams. And I don't live in tornado country either.)

3. Amusement parks. Usually, rides don't work or I can't find my way to where I want to go.
posted by konolia at 2:50 PM on December 16, 2003

I often have a dream very similar to kindall's - where I can float/walk just by putting one foot above/in front of the other and lift myself up on it without putting my weight on it. And, of course, it doesn't seem like a big deal; just one of those touch-your-tongue to your nose kind of tricks.
posted by transient at 2:56 PM on December 16, 2003

I have dreamed in serials - the most memorable of which was one where I was walking down a country lane in England, and a fairy (for want of a better term for a magical, elf-like person) walked out of the hedgerow in front of me and told me a special word to say if I wanted to go to a different world. I said the word and walked through the hedge into this amazing world with all kinds of neat stuff. I woke up for a while, then went back to sleep, said the word, and went back to the place and picked up my adventure where it left off. But after that, I forgot the magic word. I also have flying dreams where I just have to run fast and then lift my legs up behind me.

I've had two recurring dreams. One is where I'm in a forest in a camper van, with a group of scientists studying Bigfoot, we can hear wailing and screaming outside, getting closer and closer, the fear and tension keep building and eventually *something* starts banging on the windows, so I pull back the curtain for some reason, and then I wake up with a pounding heart.

The other is where I'm driving up the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto, there's been some kind of massive apocalyptic event, and there are overturned cars everywhere and no sign of life. I stop the car and get out, and I can hear a man calling for help from one of the wrecked cars, so I run over to him. He's trapped and there's a strong smell of gasoline and I somehow know the car's about to explode, so I reach in and grab him to pull him out, but his flesh comes off in my hands. He keeps screaming for me to help him, and then screaming because I'm pulling gobs of his flesh off, and I'm getting more and more frantic because I can't seem to help him, and then I wake up.
posted by biscotti at 3:01 PM on December 16, 2003

I have several recurring dreams, but the two that seem to show up most often are variations on 1) finding a large sum of money and 2) being able to jump incredibly high (not flying, just jumping 10-15 feet or more into the air). Invariably it's a disappointment when I wake up and realize that I am poor and earthbound.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:17 PM on December 16, 2003

To those who fly in their dreams- it's a pretty well known fact that flying dreams symbolize extreme confidence and a strong sense of self on the dreamer's part. I couldn't direct you to a study about it, but I've heard it said many times, and all the people I know with re-occuring flying dreams match that description.
posted by degnarra at 3:19 PM on December 16, 2003

Teeth falling out. Epic, detailed, and very memorable for at least a number of days afterwards.

I've heard a story on the radio (probably apocryphal) that a woman had both coming attractions before and credits after her dreams, during which she (still in her dream state) was in a theater.
posted by daver at 3:25 PM on December 16, 2003

This is all very interesting. Thanks for asking the question.

I have dreams set in reoccurring places, although the plot-line of the dreams is never the same.

Place 1) A rural road near the house that I grew up in -- I'll be walking/driving/biking down the road at a certain point the road changes from the 'real' road to the 'dream' one (with different topography) and then the plot of the dream begins.

Place 2) A house I've never been in, but in my dream a member of my family (sometimes me, sometimes someone else) owns. Different stories take place within and around the house.

Place 3) I have a reoccurring nightmare that a piece of land that adjoins the land at my family homestead sells (the land is really for sale, has been for about five or six years) and gets converted to all number of awful things: casino, trailer park, train station, airport, you name it. This dream I can trace back directly to my actual anxiety about what will happen when the plot of land actually sells.

I also dream that I can fly (in different contexts) at least once a week, although I would not describe myself as either exceptionally confident and/or having a strong sense of self. Also (believe it or not) I have a history of having dreams that afterwards come true in some way - usually not anything important, but some element of the dream will be replayed in real life (like dropping a bowl or seeing someone I haven't seen in ages). My dreams are very vivid and I can almost always repeat them in great detail to anyone who asks/will listen for about an hour after I wake up, after which they fade away. I have also often dreamt of my teeth being loose or falling out.

Does everyone here dream in colour, or do some of you dream in black and white?
posted by anastasiav at 3:25 PM on December 16, 2003

For years I had dreams about evil. It was in the air. Sometimes it *was* the air. If the evil touched something or someone, that thing/person's molecules were immediately transmogrified into molecules of evil. So instead of being made of wood, steel, or flesh, everything was made up of evil in the shape of wood, steel, and flesh. There was no way to tell the difference except in humans, who took on a slightly pink(er) color after they touched (and then became) the evil.

I always woke up screaming before the evil touched me.
posted by stefanie at 3:32 PM on December 16, 2003

I get the levitation thing too. And it's always very matter-of-fact, like oh yeah, I can do this now.
posted by condour75 at 3:32 PM on December 16, 2003

My top 5:

1. Can't correctly dial the telephone number I need to get me out of a desperate situation.

2. Can't find my class schedule on the first day of high school and can't find the office to get another one. Wander aimlessly around school for weeks. In underwear.

3. I live in NYC and Godzilla decides to invade. No matter where I go, he can find me. He keeps trying to kill me and keeps missing by inches, but he's relentless and extremely clever.

4. I somehow lose my son, usually in some bizarre and tragic way. He doesn't die, but it's evident from the dream that I'm never going to see him again, and that his future is going to be very bleak. I really hate it when I have this dream, because I'm shaken for hours after I wake up, and I have to keep going into his bedroom to make sure he's still there, and I usually cry about it all morning. Pathetic, I know.

5. I have sex with Robert Redford, the way he looked in Barefoot in the Park. This is a very good dream.
posted by iconomy at 3:35 PM on December 16, 2003

I occasionally dream about my teeth falling out, which has the unfortunate side-effect (these days) of reminding me that I have a couple of really honkin' cavities that I need to have taken care of.

I also occasionally dream about balding in some sort of horrific clumping fashion, which has had the pleasant side-effect of pretty much destroying whatever waking-world concerns I once had about my comparitively slowly receding hairline.

When I have fevers (or, really, this is mostly grade school through high school, haven't had a bad fever in six or seven years): tiny little black things, you could call them monoliths but they're really more of an absence of light against an ambient glowing sort of background, and they start out as a crowd of so very many tiny black things falling from the "sky", as it were, but then they start thinning out and at the same time getting bigger, until finally one big motherfucker just slams down and everything goes black. There's a sort of sense of subsonic NOISE that corresponds to all this. Utterly fucking terrifying.

I also dream occasionally about being in high school and realizing that I have to get to class but have no idea what my schedule is. No test to worry about in particular -- just, where am I supposed to go? History? What the fuck?

I never dreamt (that I can recall) about blowing big exams and such, which is funny because I was in a position to almost not graduate from college if I didn't wrestle up an extra PE credit at the last minute.

Also, I have dreams about girls I had crushes on back in the day.
posted by cortex at 3:39 PM on December 16, 2003

None of my dreams involve vehicles with motors. I always have to pedal.

I have recurring dreams of high school.

I've said too much.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:39 PM on December 16, 2003

It hasn't happened for a few years now, but I used to dream of playing Tetris.
posted by Soliloquy at 3:40 PM on December 16, 2003

anastasiav: I usually dream in color, but I've had black and white dreams as well. I have a recurring nightmare about being chased around my high-school by a serial killer, and that one is always black and white. Weird, my brain apparently likes noir cinematography.
posted by vorfeed at 3:44 PM on December 16, 2003

Over the past week I've been having a serialised dream, but it seems to have stopped now. Never happened before.

Everyones recurring dreams seem quite simple, or at least in comparison to mine. I have 3 to 4 recurring dreams, and they're basically all like feature length films. They aren't on a recurring theme, like other people have mentioned, they're literally like I've plugged the dream into a hole in my head, and I'm watching it for the Nth time.

Also, one particular dream is always triggered by seeing chicken coated with peppercorns. Am I just totally weird, or do other people have similar experiences?
posted by Orange Goblin at 3:53 PM on December 16, 2003

In my dream last night, I woke up in a a cabin staring at a clock that read 3:15. What seemed liked a short time later I really did wake up and my clock read 3:15.

I kid you not.
posted by btwillig at 3:54 PM on December 16, 2003

> To those who fly in their dreams- it's a pretty well known fact that flying
> dreams symbolize extreme confidence and a strong sense of self on the
> dreamer's part.

Heh. I often have flying dreams, I mean flying personally like Superman. But I have Hells' own time flying high because I can't get past the electric power lines. I get off the ground easily but as soon as I try to go over fifty feet or so there's this horrible multiple layer of power lines, high tension lines, phone lines, etc., and I can't find any way through it. Damned civilization!
posted by jfuller at 4:43 PM on December 16, 2003

1. I have dreams about my teeth, but they never just fall out. Rather, the teeth from my upper and lower jaws fuse together and, upon trying to open my mouth, a handful of them get wrenched from their sockets. It's never seemed painful; just a panic-stricken "What am I going to do?"
2. People developing or becoming infected with incurable diseases. I'm rarely the victim of said disease, and I always see the victim acquiring the disease, but it's always in a seemingly benign manner. For example, one dream involved driving on the way to Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, and a kid on the side of the road reaches out his hand and smacks it against the passenger window. From this, he would inevitably develop cancer.
3. Witnessing people die, in terribly violent ways, in agonizing slow motion. I described one instance of this dream here.

Yay for my screwed-up brain.
posted by Danelope at 5:59 PM on December 16, 2003

I've had only one serialized dream that I remember:
over four nights I dreamt that my mother died. In each dream one of my four brothers was the featured character. After the fourth dream it stopped.

I've dreamt about being out of high school for a while (illness?) and when I get back I don't have a clue as to what I should be doing or where my locker is or where my classes are. And to top it all off I discover that I forgot to put pants on. My shirt is just long enough to cover my ass and I go through the day tugging on it to keep modest. Funny thing is, no one seems to notice.

My flying dream is a bit different. It's me and a bunch of other girls (I'm quite young in the dream) in flouncy dresses. We're doing this square dance kind of thing and flinging each other up into the air.

I didn't notice anyone mention a falling dream. Mine starts with me walking up to the front doof of a house. There are no other houses visible. It's a 1960s rancher type of house. The ground is kind of concrete-ish looking and fades away into the horizon. I walk up to the door and stand on the welcome mat. It drops away and I fall until I hit bottom and wake up.

I've woke both my husband and myself several times by laughing out loud.

Although it's fairly faded, sepia-ish, I dream in colour.
posted by deborah at 6:02 PM on December 16, 2003

Falling. Always falling....
posted by pemulis at 6:03 PM on December 16, 2003

The only recurring dream I remember I had as a little kid. It was very simple, and strange: I would be in my bedroom, and from somewhere (everywhere, it seemed) there would be this (at first quiet) noise, which got louder and louder until it was a deafening roar, then quieted down again, and so on. When the noise got loud I would be afraid, when it got quiet I dreaded its inevitable return. And as I recall, it sounded more like a massively resonant vibration than any particular thing that makes noise and scares people.

Nowadays I rarely have recurring dreams as such, though I do commonly have dreams where I'm depending on something (a gun, perhaps, to save my life from a brain-eating zombie or something) and it won't work at all. I pull the trigger and the thing doesn't even click.

Unfortunately, though I often recognize that I'm dreaming, I don't have much luck with lucid dreaming. Usually the realization that I'm dreaming wakes me up right away, when I want to stay asleep and keep dreaming.

For a while I kept a notebook by my bed and recorded my dreams when I woke up each morning; that was great, because it helped me remember my dreams and I began to remember them much better. I remember dreams from that period still, while I couldn't tell you what I dreamed about last night.
posted by hashashin at 6:21 PM on December 16, 2003

In my recurring dream, I'm sitting in the passenger's seat of a car, nonchalantly cruising along the road. I turn to look to the driver's seat, and realize there's nobody in it. The car then starts moving out of control and I try to regain control of the car.

I can't get myself out of the passenger's seat to get into the driver's seat to regain control of the car. It continues to speedily weave through traffic, violently forcing me back into my seat when I try to stand up.

When I finally make it into the driver's seat, I manage to get hold of the wheel, but to no avail; I crash into a wall, and I wake up shaking.

I've had that dream off and on for almost ten years now, and it still freaks me out.
posted by fredosan at 6:56 PM on December 16, 2003

I've got a flying dream as well, I just run up to a speed and jump off the ground and it's great and feels really natural, although I always worry that I might drop.

The worst one of my dreams is where I'm in a high indoor place, like a mall or something and suddenly I have no friction whatsoever and keep sliding and dropping, I always drop into a lower level and keep sliding. I wake up just when I'm sliding down the last level before a high drop. This one gives me flashbacks whenever I'm really in a high place.

Sometimes, I find out the meaning of life or the answer for all of mankinds or something equally important. That one is really annoying, since I can't remember what it was in the morning.
posted by lazy-ville at 7:18 PM on December 16, 2003

tornados. lots and lots of tornados. tornados that chase me, pick me up off the ground and somehow set me back down on my feet.

alien/military invaders (by plane or spacecraft) approaching the horizon of the backyard of my childhood home.

slow running/climbing. in sand, on mountains.

all are never pleasant.
posted by c at 8:48 PM on December 16, 2003

Teeth falling out. Vivid enough that when I wake, I have to check all my teeth for looseness.

Being chased, and no matter what route I take to get away, it turns into this steep, steep hill. So steep I have to start crawling up it, and then eventually I'm just hanging on by my fingernails and the hill is nearly vertical. Meanwhile everyone else going up this hill has no problem walking right up.

Getting killed, usually by a friend, in some way or another.

Most recently, though, my recurring dream has been of blowing out my knee.
posted by emmling at 9:08 PM on December 16, 2003

I have many minor recurrent themes (I've recorded my dreams since 1981 and therefore remember hundreds if not thousands of them), but the biggest has probably been saving the world from aliens (or some equally overwhelming threat) and marrying the princess (not usually an alien).
posted by rushmc at 9:16 PM on December 16, 2003

My falling dream usually involves falling off during a logrolling competition. I wake up just as I'm about to hit the water. For some reason, I find this extremely humorous and usually wake up giggling.

A recurring obstacle is a large pond or lake with many lilypads and other vegetation growing up out of the water. I know that if I move swiftly enough, not stopping in any one place for too long, I can make it across without falling in. Sometimes I make it across, other times I become distracted, often by someone calling my name from the shore, and I fall in and become tangled in all the reeds and vines.
posted by whatnot at 9:16 PM on December 16, 2003

What Common Dreams Mean
Disclaimer: Everyone's dreams mean unique things about/to the dreamer. These are just some generalizations.

Are there people who don't have recurring dreams? I'm one of those. I have had dreams within dreams, though, where I realize I need to remember the contents of my dream and therefore begin dreaming it again so I can remember it in the morning.

Ways to remember your dreams include to tell yourself before you fall asleep "I will remember this dream", keep a notebook handy to record whatever you remember when you wake up, and to rehearse the contents of the dream while you are still having it (if you're lucky enough to have dreams within dreams).
posted by somethingotherthan at 9:37 PM on December 16, 2003

Everyones recurring dreams seem quite simple, or at least in comparison to mine

I strongly suspect that this is either because people are only relating the most important aspects, or only remember certain aspects, not that their dreams are actually simple - I know mine aren't, it's just that there's only so much description required to get the basic idea across.
posted by biscotti at 9:39 PM on December 16, 2003

Years ago after the painful breakup of a relationship, I had a series of very transparent dreams that did the hard work of getting me over my loss. In the dreams, I was compelled to climb a dangerous mountain. I am terribly afraid of heights and this fear carried into my dreams. I did not want to climb the mountain but had no choice.

For the first few dreams, I had some fellow travelers who offered me company and encouragement, but then one night and thereafter I was alone. It was steep, dangerous, cold, and dark. To make matters worse, I could always look down to the base and see an inviting, cozy campfire tended by a handsome gypsy man, and I desperately wanted to turn back and join that lovely, safe scene. But night after night I would be compelled to climb the mountain, tired and afraid.

Some nights I would make fair progress and others I would barely hang on, fingers gripping a precarious purchase. If I needed to rest from my climb, I would pile rocks around me to keep from rolling or tumbling back down the steep slope in my sleep. After a few years of having this dream occur several times a week, I finally reached the top and it was a totally exhilarating and triumphant feeling. The dreams ended after that.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:57 PM on December 16, 2003

I haven't had flying dreams since I was a child. I seldom have naked dreams. I've never dreamed of having my teeth fall out. I don't fall, either.

But I do have surrealistic dreams. I quite enjoy them.

The recent dreams that have freaked me out are a set of very ordinary -- nay, mundane -- dreams. In one, I went shopping for a replacement lamp shade. In another, I cleaned the garage. These were perfectly ordinary activities. Nothing untoward happened. There were no challenges, nothing was strange, and it was all just as if I'd really done it in real life. (Which was annoying, because the garage wasn't clean once I woke up.)

They were the most boring dreams of my life, and I quite disliked them. Fortunately, that spell lasted only a week. Now I'm back to the ordinary weird stuff. Happy, happy!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:16 PM on December 16, 2003

I sometimes dream I am in a major gunfight, and that all the people around me got capped except for me and my pistol. Pull the trigger, bullet ejects slowly to the ground. Then I am usually shot or I float off into blackness with my music playing in the background that I leave on at night.
posted by Keyser Soze at 12:31 AM on December 17, 2003

1) My teeth become loose and fall out.

2) Flying dream that usually becomes lucid. I run really fast and flap my arms, and I am able to fly. It always takes place in Northern Virginia in the neighborhood where I grew up, and the final destination is always the playground at my elementary school. The people in the dream are always people from my "current" life, however.

3) The test dream, where I find out during finals week that there is this other class I am registered for that I completely forgot about. Worst. Dream. Ever.
posted by gatorae at 2:03 AM on December 17, 2003

In college, I had this bizarre recurring dream where I had to boil some eggs without breaking them, and for some reason, in my dream, this was a very complicated, high-pressure task. (I don't know, either.)
posted by catfood at 4:50 AM on December 17, 2003

I haven't had recurring dreams for a while now, but there was one that I had at least monthly when I was little. In the dream I'd be in the living room of my grandmother's house, and a rumbling noise would start. Everything in the room would start to rattle, building up to the point where pictures would fall off the walls and the china on the teacart in the corner would start breaking.

Then, a huge column of the black blood of the earth would erupt under the teacart - and everything (except the black blood) switches to slow motion. The cart is utterly destroyed in what should have been an eyeblink, but it takes minutes to resolve. I could count the individual pieces of the ceramic teapot when it exploded, and track the shards as they flew across the room.

The black blood keeps going until it strikes ceiling, and then starts filling up the room from the top down (think of pouring water into an aquarium - now rotate the image 180 degrees). Quickly. There's LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of it. All in real time while everything was still in slow motion - bits of china and the teacart still in motion.

I'd wake up sweating, and generally spend the rest of the night wide awake. There was never any overt threat, but I always knew that the stuff was inimical, and was just waiting for me to go back to the dream. And I knew, just knew, that I didnt want it to touch me. Ever.

Ugh. Gives me shivers just remembering it now.
posted by Irontom at 5:11 AM on December 17, 2003

When I was younger, I had a recurring dream that Huey Lewis was my uncle.

I often have dreams that my husband has left me or is being cold and mean to me. He has similar dreams about me. We have an excellent relationship in waking life (as far as I know!) I figure they're just another stripe of anxiety dream.
posted by kmel at 6:02 AM on December 17, 2003

I'd advise everybody to take any statement about "what dreaming about [x] means" with a massive grain of salt, much larger than this disclaimer would suggest. I realize everybody's trying to be helpful, and I'm trying to stick to the "Ask" tone of non-snarkiness, but "it's a pretty well known fact that flying dreams symbolize" a great many possible things depending on the context and the dreamer. I'm pointing this out because of the feedback loop involved in having dreams and believing that they mean a particular thing, the suggestible nature of our psyches' use of symbology.

Not to pick on somethingotherthan, but that "Dreams Explained" page is pretty weak. It's poorly maintained (links and images missing) and the first sentence of "flying dreams" is "Flying dreams fall under a category of dreams where you become aware that you are dreaming, known as lucid dreaming." This is wildly inaccurate, since most of the people on this thread would probably corroborate that their flying dreams tend to be non-lucid, because in the dream the phenomenon doesn't seem impossible, or sometimes, even that remarkable. While flying is one of the most failsafe dreamsigns, and while my first thought on going lucid is often "Hey! I'm dreaming! That means I can fly!" these two phenomena are not intrinsically related.

As far as staying in a dream once you become lucid, two quick pointers: 1) Look at your hands (the Castaneda thing, only using it as a reality-grounder instead of lucidity cue), and if your vision is starting to fade, drop to the ground and put your hands on the ground, feeling what the surface is. If your senses are still fading, 2) fall backwards while turning, so that you cause yourself to spin toward the disappearing ground. Keep the fact that you're dreaming uppermost in your mind. In most cases, you will lose the fading reality completely and "wake" into another dream, possibly a "false awakening," but armed with the knowledge that you're dreaming, and in a reality that's likely to be more stable (initially anyway) than the one you just left.
posted by soyjoy at 7:51 AM on December 17, 2003

Can anyone explain to me how it is that people claim to know the "meanings" of common dreams like falling, drowning, forgotten exams, etc? A lot of the explanations seem plausible, but how can anyone claim to know? Who's to say there's any meaning at all? How do you objectively study something like that?
posted by tirade at 8:04 AM on December 17, 2003

The teeth dream happens to me every couple months or so. I also dream serially on random topics, and there's usually an "Oh, this again" kind of moment in the dream, without actual awareness of dreaming. somehow.

I also have pretty vivid dreams about witnessing a nuclear blast - mostly the mushroom cloud, and it usually appears in yard of my house or just outside work (or school, when I was a kid). I've had the dream for years, and each time, at some point in the dream, I say to myself "Well, this time it's for real. Funny that you've been dreaming about it for so long..."
posted by donnagirl at 8:25 AM on December 17, 2003

I have jfuller's flying dream quite often. Also have one in which I'm lost in a huge old house, with some non-corporeal menace waiting for me either below ground or on the upper floor. Every now and then I'll dream I'm reading a book, turning pages and everything, and if I could just remember what I've read, I'd have a full-blown novel to publish (variation on this is listening to a piece of music).
posted by Dean King at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2003

When I was very little, I very regularly had a dream where I was a mouse (though still normal kid size, living in my real life house). I would play in my bedroom and then a dog pushing a fruit cart would come in and try to cut off my tail. I'd always wake up just as he was about to snip my tail off with his metal scissors. Scared the crap out of me.
posted by katieinshoes at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2003

1. I dream that I'm on a quest for something non-epic, but very very important. I usually don't know what the quest item is.

2. I'm hiding from a group that is looking for me. I'm usually very wily in these dreams and I usually get away.

3. I can fly. Or, rather, I can jump really really high. It usually starts out that I notice that my feet are unusually long (like 2 feet or so), and I start walking around with an exaggerated bouncing motion.

At some point I get the urge to see how high I can jump. Usually it's like 10 feet or so, but after some practice I find I can jump great distances (several hundred yards at a time). I then just jump around for a long time until I wake.

I love those dreams, they're exhilarating.

and, rarely

4. I suffer some sort of massive tooth-related trauma, like getting them bashed out, or all of them rotting and falling out within minutes, or something.
posted by bshort at 9:24 AM on December 17, 2003

Just to reinforce some of the more common dreams, I also have the school exam with no studying, the running to get away but being in slow motion and the ineffective use of a gun on an enemy dreams. Common anxieties, I would expect.

The flying usually happens when I fall or when I need to get somewhere fast and just decide to jump up and go. Usually, it is tied closely to my breathing, the more I inhale, the more altitude I gain. Exhale, and fall a bit. So I breathing is like flapping my wings.
posted by Hackworth at 10:34 AM on December 17, 2003

I have the school dream as well, where I haven't been to class all semester and the test/paper is due tomorrow, or I'm going back to school and none of the classes I need to enroll in are open.

I also have a similar dream, but in the theatre, where I have to go on stage and perform (usually singing as well), and I have no idea what the lines are. Surprised it hasn't come up, since I hear that's a common one.
posted by mkultra at 10:52 AM on December 17, 2003

I've never had a recurring dream, and I've never had any of the general 'themes' that everyone seems to dream about. This kind of sucks, because I'd like to fly.

My dreams tend to be a bit weird, and full of colors. The one thing that tends to recur in my dreams is dinosaurs. What's funny, is I'm not a dino-crazy person. But I tend to be able to remember my dreams with dinos more easily, I don't know why.
posted by stoneegg21 at 1:28 PM on December 17, 2003

Can anyone explain to me how it is that people claim to know the "meanings" of common dreams like falling, drowning, forgotten exams, etc?

Most dream interpretation for the masses is bunk, IMO, along the lines of astrology. I think the vast majority of symbology in one's dreams is based upon a unique personal mythology, and therefore to ferret out any meaning from it whatsoever, one must become somewhat familiar with what things might mean or correlate to for them. There is probably some culturally shared symbology as well (though I wouldn't take it so far as any sort of Jungian collective unconscious. It only stands to reason that since most of us interact with elevators in similar ways, that they might represent something similar to us if our brains borrow them to use as a symbol.

There is also, of course, the question of just how much dreams "mean" anything. Crick and many other modern researchers believe (to varying degrees) that the primary purpose of dreaming is biological or concerned with long-term memory or other cognitive functions and that there is no meaning in a dream but that which we apply to it post-hoc when we try to interpret the random cognition in a way that makes sense to us.
posted by rushmc at 2:48 PM on December 17, 2003

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