I typically don’t spend much time analyzing my dreams. Usually, if I wake up remembering clearly the details of a dream, it means that I’ve slept well and my body has been working on making a dent in my sleep debt. I generally feel grateful and move on with the day. But over the past few months I’ve had a recurring dream that distresses me as it plays out and leaves me feeling unsettled the next morning.
In the dream, I’m back in college, enrolled in a full load of courses, one of which is an upper-level French seminar that is critical for my major. I suddenly realize that, while I’ve been keeping up with biology and my other classes, for this one I have not only neglected all of the reading but also forgotten that a major paper analyzing this reading is due in just a few days. (In progressive iterations of the dream, the due date moves closer and closer. Last night, I dreamed that it had already passed.) And of course the class is being taught by my favorite professor.
Perhaps this is just a personalized version of the classic today’s-the-final-exam-and-I-forgot-to-study nightmare. But I’m not so sure. I typically don’t have those dreams, and the fact that the oversight involves reading and writing strikes me as significant. In July I began my year as chief resident and had high hopes that the more relaxed schedule would allow me more time to devote to my literary interests. In truth, I have had the time but haven’t allocated it accordingly. Yes, there have been other demands on my attention – acclimating to my new role, launching a new component of our curriculum, preparing for the pediatrics board-certification exam, parenting a toddler – but there remain enough hours in each week to spend at least a few on the activities that really nourish my soul. I have been sensing a void in my life recently, and, despite having a wonderful family and adoring my job, feeling less than fulfilled. Perhaps my subconscious realized that it needed to send me a clearer message.
This time I heard it.
It’s time to write.