As most people do, I have bad dreams from time-to-time—the bothersome little dreams that haunt you all day long: Showing up to a test unprepared; arriving at a party without your shoes or shirt; running through the forest from some unknown monster. You know, normal bad dreams.
Generally, those dreams don’t bother me much. I can almost always pin the dream to something happening in my life, and I’m aware that the dream is just a subconscious manifestation of my waking stresses.
But lately, I’ve been having the same bad dream quite regularly. And even though I have a couple of ideas as to why I’m having the dream—and that it is, in fact, only a dream—I can’t shake it.
In these dreams, I’m running a race. I’m managing quite well until my legs slow down, and eventually stop. I am physically unable to make my legs go forward. So I step back a few paces and start again, which allows me to go forward again. But only for a moment before my legs, once again, won’t go.
My energy levels are fine. My body feels great. I am not physically ill. I just can’t make it past a certain point.
So I back up even further—sometimes to the start of the race—and I’m OK again and I can run. Then, all of the sudden, my legs stop again. They just stop, despite the rest of me having the energy to carry on.
Sometimes, I try to leave the course for a bit, thinking that a small detour might get me to the finish line. But the roads don’t connect or a race marshal stops me and makes me go back to the main course.
I keep trying and trying and trying. But my legs just won’t move past a certain point. Everyone else is passing me. Some of them laugh; some of them offer me help. But I can’t move forward.
So, why this new dream all of the sudden? Well, I have two possible interpretations:
- I’ve been sick and unable to run lately because of a low platelet count, and even had to miss today’s Edinburgh Marathon on doctor’s orders. I was cleared for running again, but I need to take it slow until my counts completely recover. So, is my inability to run and complete a race in my dreams just a literal reflection of that?
- I’m feeling more and more like my dreams of living in Scotland and getting a PhD are un-reachable now. I keep trying new ways to make those dreams happen, but I’m constantly hitting a wall and having to stop and regroup. My biggest hopes and dreams seem impossible now. So, is that what my inability to run a race in my dreams is all about? Is it a subconscious reminder that I just can’t do it, no matter how many times I try to start over?