This morning, I woke up after a long dream that was loosely tied in with Harry Potter characters. I do this somewhat frequently; maybe once a month; maybe more; where real and fictional characters who have deeply affected me, wind through my dreams. A short list:
- The Beatles (including the two dead ones)
- The cast of Friends
- Characters from Lord of the Rings
- The cast of M*A*S*H
- The characters from the Harry Potter books
- The cast of Northern Exposure (this was a few years ago, when it was still on TV)
- The characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
I don’t know if this tells me anything in particular; I’ll leave the dream interpretations others more skilled in the Psychological Arts than I am.
My grandparents and great-grandparents (all dead but three, now) also visit my dreams fairly frequently. I don’t know what that means either. Maybe I have some unresolved business with them? They’re never trying to warn me or anything. I just … dream them. We’re going to visit them, or coming from visiting them, or organizing a huge meal. Sometimes I don’t want to wake up from these dreams because, well, people who are very important to me are there, and acting the way they should act, and aren’t in a box or urn someplace. I usually wake up pensive, with a quiver in my heart after one of those nights.
But why the heck do I dream about Harry Potter and his magical world? I haven’t been seventeen for far more than seventeen years. I don’t usually go around saving the world from Voldemort, except in my mind, where he’s always present, and has to be beaten back before he brings the world to a chaotic ruin and kills Albus Dumbledore (who is never dead in my dreams).
There’s a German literary term, Bildungsroman, that basically means “coming of age novel.” Huckleberry Finn is a fine example of one of these. So is Burroughs’s Running With Scissors (in case you don’t read books over 30 years old). This type of work has always appealed to me. I like seeing things through new eyes; the process of discovery of a young person is fascinating; often they notice things I wouldn’t. Many Fantasy novels have a heavy dose of the Bildungsroman in them which is, in part, why I enjoy reading that literature so much. There’s something heartening and often cheerful to see a character, and watch them grow and learn. A novel, even a long one, I can usually finish in 8 or so hours, and enjoy the arc of a story that ends (preferably) with somebody growing up, wiser, and better, and maybe with a touch of magical power. Seeing it in real life with my two sons is rather slow-motion version of the same thing. I guess it’s why I like being a father so much. There’s magic in watching them mature. If I could condense their lives into a three-hundred page novel, I surely would. And they’d probably sue me for revealing all sorts of weird stuff about them.
But that’s life. You gotta live it, and you gotta dream it.