The Plane

I am a dreamer, and I don’t mean I’m prone to posing wacky what-ifs, like “what if a dinosaur and a spaceman had a baby” or something. I mean I dream every night and I dream hard, and they’re often disturbing.

Some people have mundane dreams about shopping or work. I have dreams about drowning in the bath, about hiding from strange men, and about a little cupboard that I was screaming too hard to open. It’s not always bad. Last night I dreamed I was introducing a bunch of people to each other and I kept getting Simonetta mixed up with Simonas, and Janic mixed up with Javik. Not pleasant, but not traumatic. Another time I dreamed I invented a card game called “Buffet” (pronounced “buff it”) and I can still remember some of the rules. Sometimes I dream I’m close friends with a celebrity, and for a few moments upon waking I consider sending them a text to tell them about this crazy dream I just had.

There are two recurring dreams. One is of outrunning a tornado and the other is of an aeroplane crashing. The tornado one is easy to explain. I saw Twister at the cinema and thought it was badass and also terrifying. I was 9, give me a break. I don’t get these so much any more, but they occasionally pop in to see how I’m doing, maybe once a year. Hey Ryan, you managed to get over the trauma inflicted by a shite film you saw 20 years ago? No? Cool, see you next time.

The aeroplane crashing, though? I don’t really understand that one, and I still get it every couple of months or so. I’m not scared of flying. Flying still makes me a little nervous because I’ve only been on a plane a handful of times, but it’s not something that keeps me up at night. What’s more, I’m not in the plane when it crashes. I see it happen from a distance. I’m out somewhere, I spot a plane in the sky, it starts wavering erratically, and it plunges into the ground. I run over to help, and I wake up before I get to the wreckage. The aircraft and location change. One time it was outside Prestwick Airport. Another it was in the south side of Glasgow, just past Silverburn, and it wasn’t a plane but a zeppelin.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a gif of a plane crashing, and it was stunningly similar to every one of these dreams. I’ve seen footage of planes crashing many times (they fascinate me, maybe because of my dream) but never in the exact same fashion as I’d imagined. This is the footage:

What interested me was that a few people had commented saying they’d had a dream just like this. I’m not the only one, and I think that’s fascinating. Sometimes you know where a dream came from. You remember having a conversation yesterday about fish, and you dreamed about fish. Maybe you watched Twister before going to bed and dreamed about tornadoes. My mum had a dream every Christmas Eve that she’d forgotten to buy her children any presents. Those all make sense in terms of how we see dreams, but there’s another kind of dream.

The other kind of dreams are the most private thoughts we have. They come unbidden, they can’t be controlled, and you absolutely cannot explain them to anyone. I might be able to relate to you how I feel about music, or what I think happiness is, and we might find some common ground, but I’ll be damned if I could ever explain what was so terrifying about that little cupboard that I couldn’t open.

In spite of this innermost form of consciousness, there are some dreams we all seem to share. There are some famous ones, like the one where you’re naked in public, or the one where you’re trying to get away from danger but you’re moving too slowly. There are others you find out are very common but only discover are common when you speak to others about your dreams, like the one where your teeth are falling out, or the one where you jump off a high place and wake up before you hit the ground.

And then there are some dreams that are extremely specific. Maybe like seeing an air crash happen in a certain way, in a way that you’ve never seen with your eyes. Dreams that are so specific that you assume they are a product of your mind and your mind only… and then one day you find out that a bunch of other people have had that exact same dream.

I don’t believe in dream interpretation of the prophetic sort. I can dig a series of unhappy dreams being a symptom of how you feel in waking life, or the crumbling teeth dream being indicative of stress, but not that a dream about a tree falling over means a birth in the family or shit like that.

Nevertheless, you’ve got to wonder why we’re all having the same dreams sometimes. Maybe being unable to escape from danger is some primal thing, some instinctual fear we’ve inherited from our ancestors. I can understand why we might all have that one. A relatively recent invention malfunctioning while we watch being a common dream, though? Well, that’s just a bit on the creepy side.