I’ve been having nightmares lately. I think I dream fairly regularly. They’re often pleasant, occasionally great, and sometimes nightmares. 

As far as we know, dreams aren’t real in any way. They don’t speak to anything in reality, and they’re probably not connected to anything beyond our ego. So the thing all dreams have in common is that they’re counterfeit. They’re an experience of nothingness, of illusions.

It’s in this sense that I think all dreams, pleasant or otherwise, are a sort of glimpse of hell. Christians consider hell to be not so much a place as a lack of place. A void, an absence of the good, an unending series of experiences that never resolve, that lack meaning and narrative and coherence. A separation from the good, driven by the vicissitudes of our own ego. 

Rather dramatic, sure. But this also describes many dreams, both good and bad. Experiences of pleasant or melancholic or nightmarish incoherence. Experiences of nonreality that nonetheless can deeply affect our waking selves. Experiences driven by ego, when we’re separated from the good, which is the waking world, full of the light of day and the life of our friends and companions.

In any event, I’ve never much cared for dreams. I expect this might change if I reach a time or age where my physical mobility is limited, and the feeling of mental mobility becomes more attractive. But given the choice, I’d rather wake refreshed without thought of the illusory world of the night.