I will be the first to say that most dreams are just brain junk: assorted thoughts and memories wandering around your subconscious that come out to play as soon as your guard goes down. Though I can’t usually make sense of the overall plot of my dreams, I usually can trace the origins of individual details to some event or train of thought within the last week or so. And since one’s memory more or less goes AWOL while dreaming, it’s not surprising that such nocturnal journeys usually only make sense until we wake up.

One thing I find interesting, however, is recurring dreams. I’m not talking about the kind everyone has – being chased, facing an exam without ever attending class, etc. – I mean the stuff specific to the individual. For me, two elements show up over and over again: darkness and bicycles. Though I’ve seen no evidence to support the prophetic qualities of dreams, I decided to see what various online dream dictionaries had to say about these recurring themes.

My dreams are usually quite dark. I mean that in a literal sense: the headlights on my car don’t work, the overhead lights in a room don’t illuminate anything, or I can’t seem to open my eyes. That last is the most obnoxious.

It would seem that I’m a failure, fearful, uncertain or stubbornly ignorant. Or it could just be my body telling me something: “Alternatively, your inability to open your eyes may be physiological in reason. When we sleep, our eyes are closed (no kidding). So in dreaming that you are trying to open your eyes, your mind may actually be telling you to really open your eyes to the point where you actually wake up.”

The bicycle is a curious thing. I haven’t ridden a real bike in years, and yet it is quite common for me to be pedaling away in my dreams. Or rather, trying to pedal: I find it extremely difficult to get the bike moving, as if I’m attempting to get up a steep incline. Often I’ll be driving a car in my dreams which will somehow transform into a bike that I can’t pedal. I’m not necessarily being chased or anything; I just can’t seem to get up any speed. I’ve tried to think of some bike-related childhood memory, but nothing comes to mind. Dream Moods says I need to find a better balance between work and leisure. The Curious Dreamer claims I’m not making enough progress in my life. DREAMS thinks I will have to make an important decision.

The funny thing about these dream dictionaries is that I feel like I could have written them. Darkness is scary and mysterious, so that must be what it represents in your dreams. Not being able to open your eyes means you’re refusing to “open your eyes” to some reality in your life. Bicycles require balance, so you must be needing that in your life. No wait, they also are a means of progressing, so they must have some bearing on the progress you’re making in your life. Or hey, if you put the balance and the progress together, it must mean you’re facing a decision!

Yeah. So I didn’t find these definitions especially illuminating. Well, except for the physiological reason. It makes the most sense. After all, usually when I finally pry my eyes open in the dream, I wake up.

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