Christopherson Column: Time to return to the ‘Sweet dreams!’ of my childhood

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    It’s funny, the odd, seemingly random things that stick with you for decades, like they’ve been branded on your brain.

    Like the placemats we used for a time back in my teenage years when I worked at RBJ’s Restaurant. They included several inspirational, uplifting messages, all of which began with “Take time…”

    Why in the world do I recall so many of them, verbatim? Like, “Take time to laugh, it is the music of the soul.” And the one that’s the basis for this column: “Take time to dream, it is hitching your wagon to a star.”

    But what if many of your dreams of late, almost a year into a pandemic that’s drastically altered your work life and shrunk your personal life to microscopic size, are far more nightmarish than they are dreamy? What if, you know...it’s all...finally…getting to you?

    I doubt I’m alone in sometimes experiencing what many consider the more typical ominous dreams that creep into nightmare territory that seem to indicate a high level of stress in one’s life. The “dental dream” that involves your teeth suddenly starting to fall out, one after the other in rapid fashion, is a timeless classic. If things at work or home are particularly hectic and your stress level is deep in the red, your teeth just don’t fall out, they actually crumble in your mouth.

    Then there’s the stress-induced dream involving school. It can be high school or college, but the premise is the same: It’s near the end of a semester or the end of the school year and you’re supposed to be cruising toward graduation, but then you suddenly realize that you have forgotten to attend a class or two for months, if you ever attended at all. Drenched in a cold sweat upon realizing your terrible blunder, you scramble to find your teacher or professor to bring them up to speed on the story behind your epic absenteeism, but you can’t find the classroom or lecture hall. You’re lost. You’re not graduating and your future goes up in flames.

    These dreams can be torture, which, thankfully, is offset by the tremendous wave of relief and even joy that comes over you upon waking up and realizing that your teeth are intact in your mouth, and that you successfully completed your high school and/or college education decades ago.

    Am the only one who’s added a third dream to my doomsday repertoire?

    I think it’s the ongoing strain of this pandemic and the latest, “variant strains” of COVID-19, that has upped the ante when it comes to the twitchy, tiny fold of gray matter in some far-off corner of my brain that churns out these dreadful nighttime terrors that drag me to the edge of the abyss when all I’m trying to do is get a half-decent night’s sleep.

    Of late, I’m having dreams about apocalyptic-level events, like nuclear bomb-level events that obliterate the landscape on a global scale. But I survive, alone. While that might be an almost worse fate than being zapped into dust immediately after the blast, what cements my continued existence coming in second to instant death in my particular nightmare is that the initial shockwave of the blast in the distance somehow launches me thousands of feet into the air, where I can see just how massive the worldwide death and destruction is.

    I sort of float around like that for a moment or two, and then I start my violent descent. I start to plummet back toward the ground, helplessly screaming and flailing the whole way.

    But I never get there. One could conclude that’s a good thing, but there’s nothing good going on here, while my actual body slumbers, but in my dream it’s plunging to the hard ground.

    Damn this pandemic.

    I want to go to the office more. I want to see friends and family more. I want to visit a favorite watering hole. I want to make reservations at a favorite restaurant. I want to fly to a far-off destination. I want to see live music. I want to not have to check my pocket or the console in the pickup for my mask every time I venture out. I want to see mask-free faces so I recognize people when they say “hi” to me.

    But because of the pandemic and our nation’s sorry response to it, the wait continues, as do bad dreams.

    The past 11 months or so have revealed our nation’s society to be basically like the Titanic. COVID-19 ripped away our scabs, like the iceberg tore into that unsinkable luxury steamliner, and revealed our nation to be a land of haves and have-nots: The super-rich getting sick less and getting better treatment when they do fall ill, and, we’re learning now, even getting bumped to the front of the line to get vaccinated.

    If you’re a have-not, confined to the lower decks with the rest of “steerage,” you’re on your own.

    It’s a depressing scene to watch unfold in the place you call home.

    Like my mom used to say at my bedtime when I was a kid, I need a return to my “Sweet dreams!’ from pre-pandemic life.

Mike Christopherson, Crookston Times managing editor