image from markchadwickart
vivid / (vĭvˈĭd)/
- Perceived as bright and distinct; brilliant: a vivid star.
- Having intensely bright colors: a vivid tapestry.
- Having a very high degree of saturation: a vivid purple.
- Presented in clear and striking manner: a vivid account of the incident.
- Perceived or felt with the freshness of immediate experience: a vivid recollection of their childhood.
- Active in forming lifelike images: a vivid imagination.
In an article I devoured recently, anthropologist Pascal Boyer argued that the foundation of religion is our psychological readiness to accept vivid, memorable tales about the world around us. Those tales may come from the sacred scriptures - stories of Eve or of creation or even of battle. Those tales may come from the faith or family traditions that we find great affinity with - when Grandpa travelled to this country or how a certain shaman changed the life of a village. They can just as easily come from sports or art or even just hanging out with friends.
I am fascinated by these vivid tales rising up from our dreams. Dreams tend to ebb & flow for me in terms of my capacity to recall them. As I have gotten older, I have begun to work harder at trying to remember them when I wake. Some of the medication I take seems to make my dreams a bit more vivid, particularly if I wake up in the early light of the morning. These dreams can be exhilarating, deeply moving, even sometimes frightening. Sometimes, I feel like my most authentic self when I wake from those - other times I just wonder "what the hell did I eat that triggered that ?".
People who do research tell us that dreams are important for pulling together all the information we process on a daily basis and turning it into memories we can use later. They have found that dreams are often a marker that the brain is working on the same problem at many levels. From their research, they have found that the vivid nature of dreams reflects the brain’s attempt to find associations for the memories that could make them more useful in the future.
Christian scripture is filled with meaning found from dreams, lives being uprooted, even the direction of a tribe or nation changed from a dream. In our rational, fact-based world - it seems almost ridiculous to consider dreams a source for wisdom or action. These dreams are often counter-factual - they take real things and remix them. But the immediacy, the intensity, the clarity - it beckons me out beyond all the models & facts & the brilliant insights. I do not know why, but the research makes me feel a lot more assured that my dreams, vivid & non-linear as they can be, are crucial to the path I travel.