Last night I had a weird dream. It wasn’t a nightmare, but it wasn’t a good dream either. I dreamt that all the oxygen was running out, and soon everyone in the world would die. Neither my husband nor my child was in the dream (thank goodness) but our dog was. I remember wanting him to be near me when I died. In the dream I was a little frantic and very, very sad, not only because I was going to die but because everyone was going to die. And soon.
I woke up from the dream around 4am and was able to fall asleep again. In that time between waking and falling back asleep, I started thinking about what I would do if the oxygen really was running out of the world. Would I panic? Would I break into a hospital or doctor’s office or scuba shop and steal oxygen? Would I try to get on the good side of some conspiracy theorist who had a bunker stocked with oxygen just in case this scenario played out? I went back to sleep and this time dreamt about being in NYC with college friends, so evidently my subconscious wasn’t too scarred by the oxygen deprivation.
But the dream has stuck with me today. Where did it come from? We recently were watching some procedural crime show in which the victim died from asphyxiation, but that was over a week ago. The dog was curled up at my feet, which is probably why he made it. But someone once advised me to pay attention to the emotions that stay with me after a strong dream, so I’ve been thinking about low-level frantic-ness and deep sadness. My best guess is that this dream was about the world running out of something.
Unless you’ve been off the grid with your head in the sand lately, it’s hard not to notice that there is a lot of bad stuff going on right now. Those Nigerian schoolgirls are still missing, and since they’ve been gone, eleven of their parents have died. Seven were killed in a Boko Haram attack; four died from health-related issues. We lament the disappearance of these girls half way across the globe while we wring out hands over what to do with the refugee children flooding into Texas from Central America. An airliner was shot down, killing hundreds of people, many of whom were involved in the vital work of AIDS research. More planes have crashed. ISIS is now requiring that all women and girls in Mosul undergo genital mutilation.
And I have no words about the violence in Israel and Palestine.
Maybe my dream was about the world’s loss of capacity to breathe in something – peace, maybe, or patience, or reason. Or maybe I’m a little frantic and very, very sad because it feels right now, at both the conscious and subconscious level, as though we are running out of hope. And we will all die without hope.