Dreams of flying

"There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."

Douglas Adams, Life The Universe and Everything

Seriously, where do dreams of flying come from? As I've discussed before, many aspects of dreams can be explained as a side effect of the brain processing memories or performing self diagnostic tests during downtime, but I'm not sure about flight. We've never flown in real life, so how can we dream about it and why is it (a) such a common dream and (b) for me at least, such a consistent experience from dream to dream?

Freud of course says that flying in dreams represents sex. I'm not sure about that as I've dreamed about flying since before puberty and anyway, if dreams of flying represent sex what do dreams of sex represent?

One of the things I find most fascinating about my flying dreams is that within them I always "remember" that yes, of course I can fly, how could I possibly have forgotten? I tend not to even classify it as flying to be honest; all that happens is that I lift both my feet off the ground at the same time and skim along with my head at normal height. Trying to get any higher is difficult; I can do it after a fashion but if I over-reach myself I come bouncing down and sometimes lose it all together and have to start all over again.

Another aspect of these dreams is that no-one else can do what I do; I usually wonder with amusement how people are going to react when they see me floating along without touching the ground.

But it's the remembering that stays with me after I wake up. It always seems so real that sometimes I am almost convinced that if I could only get it just right, I'd be able to fly in real life. This is quite clearly absurd. But the art, or knack, to flying seems so close sometimes, almost as if it's on the tip of my mind.

What are we remembering when we dream this? It can't be anything in our own lives, and it's unlikely to be a race memory of some kind because none of our ancestors as far as I am aware were capable of flight. Those monkeys that attempted it only managed fairly short and vertical journeys after which they were in no condition to pass on their genes.

Sometimes it seems as if I almost remember being able to fly as a baby, before I knew that it wasn't possible, but that too is absurd.

The only thing that feels remotely right is that it's some kind of reverse memory. In the future we'll live in space stations and low gravity worlds; places that absolutely allow the kind of flying I dream about.

I do hope it's a reverse personal memory rather than a reverse race memory. I want to fly.

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