Have you ever had that dream? The one where you're making a presentation and you have no idea what you're supposed to say? Or you're a performer and you've forgotten your lines?
It's a very common dream. It's not one of my recurring nightmares. But I did have "the dream" a few nights ago.
However, mine had a very interesting twist.
In my dream I had somehow agreed to play piano with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the Bartok Violin Concerto. Never mind that there isn't a piano part in the concerto, or that Bartok wrote more than one concerto. What's significant is that I am neither qualified or likely to get the opportunity to be a featured pianist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, much less in performance of a difficult composer like Bartok.
Nevertheless, I had agreed to do it. And though I could feel the time and date getting closer, I refused to prepare. It's like I was willfully ignoring the impending reality of the performance.
In the dream one of my friends ran interference for me, deflecting the woman who had hired me, and suggesting that maybe I wouldn't be able to do it. No problem, the woman said. We can bring in another pianist.
Yet as the night approached, I felt compelled to at least show my face at the gig. So I went to the performance. And to my horror, the substitute pianist didn't show up!
So the woman told me I'd have to play. I fumbled a bit, trying to tell her that I hadn't prepared at all. She insisted that I play, and this is where the dream goes rogue.
"Just play quiet," she said in an undertone. It was as if she understood that I was in a dilemma, and she was letting me know that as long as I went through the motions the orchestra would cover my mistakes. I was very skeptical, and very afraid, but I took my place at the piano.
As the music began, I found myself looking at an incomprehensible score. I randomly threw my hands at the keys, thinking that since it was Bartok, the audience might not know. My page turner, a Russian woman, knew, but she was playing like she didn't.
The piece continued, and it got more and more fun. Gradually I was reassured that only I, the woman that hired me, and my page turner knew what was going on, and I felt better and better. Finally, the performance ended and I had made it through my ordeal with only a little embarrassment.
I found this a profoundly reassuring dream, a nightmare turned good. I passed through the anxiety part into a realm where I was taking a risk and was succeeding. Since I see dreams as reflections of my current life state, I considered it a favorable judgement.
Apparently I'm living more like this now, taking chances, not having to be perfect, collaborating with others so the pressure isn't all on me. I still prepare for things, still work hard, and do my best to meet my obligations. But where I used to over-prepare (or under-prepare) for everything, now I tend to know more when to prepare and when to just wait something out.
What do you think? Am I right to be happy about my dream? What do you think it means?