A few weeks ago I was awoken by a sharp knock. It was the middle of the night, perhaps around three, and I jumped out of bed. Being one of those people who naturally flip that switch from asleep to awake very quickly I immediately moved to the bedroom door and listened. Silence. I opened the door and nothing stirred. I opened the front door and there was only darkness and silence outside.
I thought about the sound I had heard and noticed that something was wrong with it. It hadn’t sounded woodsey enough and the reverb accompanying the sound was also wrong… What was going on? It must have been a dream.
First I went to bed and back to sleep then, in the morning, after all of my brain came alive with a cup of coffee, I realized something.
Our brain can’t record sounds or sights, or smells for that matter. It can file the experience for future reference and categorize the type of sound, for example a knock against a wooden door as opposed to a hollow metal door. Then when we hear that sound again, we can compare notes and realize it was a wooden door we heard.
When we dream we are so involved in the emotional aspect of the dream that the details don’t matter much. The brain creates an *impression* of a knock on a wooden door. And it is good enough because it got me going, didn’t it. But I am musician and the impression didn’t last long in my waking state.
I don’t remember many dreams, in fact I hardly ever remember one, and perhaps that’s why they seem very real when they do spill into the waking state for me. Note to self, try to make it sound a little more realistic next time.