Mrs ERJ just retired and she asked me how long those vivid dreams will continue. I was able to tell her, "Eight years."
That is the answer that Lenny gave me. I asked him "How long will I have those dreams where I show up to work in inappropriate attire or my boss catches on fire or I cannot finish the paperwork because my pen turned into a sardine or I have to rewire a circuit with red worms, cooked spaghetti and Twizzlers?"
He told me with great emphasis and conviction, "Eight years!"
Then he added, "I retired eight years ago and I did not have one of those dreams last night."
Why more dreams?
Dreams are the way our minds sweep out the trash. It is a running chronicle of our minds randomly attempting to fit puzzle pieces together, freed of the rules that guide us during the day. It is our brain looking for patterns and trying to make sense out of a life that is inherently conflicted and chaotic:
- Reduce headcount while making people feel important
- Reduce cost while simultaneously improving quality
- Do everything faster but do it more safely
- Take care of yourself, so you can take care of others
- Tell your boss everything he will need to know in the next 24 hours but include no extraneous detail that will bog him down.
- Document everything but don't do it until the action stops.
- And on, and on, and on......
Vivid dreams usually happen near the end of the sleep cycle. Working people chronically awaken before they have had enough sleep. The trash in our minds accumulates until we have enough time to process it.
A similar situation occurs when an alcoholic goes on the wagon. Heavy drinking suppresses night-time dreaming. All of those demons are unleashed when the drinking stops. Fabulous nightmares bedevil the newly-sober subject for a period of time.
As retired people we have more time to sleep (heaven!) and can wake more gently. So we have more vivid dreams and the environment is more conducive to remembering them.
I still don't know why my boss was on fire. Nor is it appropriate to I share how I extinguished the fire but I can share that the method used was extremely satisfying.