Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Code Name: Avocado

By Darvell Hunt

I had a dream the other night in which I went to a clinic for carpal tunnel surgery. When I woke, my left arm was throbbing in pain.

I concluded that I had been sleeping wrong on my left arm and this had caused me considerable pain. My brain, rather than waking me up or telling me to roll over in my sleep, made up an excuse to explain away the pain and then attempted to deal with it, deciding for me that it was carpal tunnel syndrome (which I do suffer from in my left hand) and that I needed to go to the clinic.

But the clinic in which I found myself was rather unusual. There were two long lines, both of which wrapped back on themselves again and again, like a snake line at a popular buffet at dinnertime. One of the lines was to register for medical service; the other line was to receive it.

With such big crowds, the clinic owners had devised a system to protect the identities of those being called back to the examining rooms: secret code names. You received your secret code name in the first line after filling out your paperwork, then stood in the second line until your code name was called.

My given code name was avocado.

Now, to be honest, I’m a fan of avocados. I like to eat them raw occasionally in salads or in sushi rolls, even though I am highly allergic to them (I eat them in small amounts and I'm okay), but I can’t stand guacamole. So, given that, I’m pretty sure the code name was not self-selected. I have no idea where that came from.

This is a prime example of how dreams can be farmed for good ideas. While I am quite sure that I probably will never use the idea of the code name of avocado to protect my identity in a busy clinic line while waiting in line for surgery, this nonetheless shows that dreams can be used as a source of information that your waking life could never provide.

Stephanie Meyer reports that the idea for her vampire books came from a dream. I think her success is a good enough reason to try it myself, don’t you think?

I’ve recently started an LDS supernatural psychological thriller based upon a dream I had one night a few years ago—an idea that I think is an excellent plot idea for a book and one that I would never in a million years think about while I was awake.

Unfortunately, I’ve also lost numerous ideas for books that woke me up in the night with their profoundness, because I never wrote them down before I went back to sleep. The human mind naturally forces dreams back into the subconscious after waking. You can, however, take steps to prevent this natural tendency of your mind to hide its best secrets from you. How?

I’ve heard that many authors use journals next to their beds for times like this, but I haven’t yet began this practice. Maybe if I had, I would already be published, as my best ideas wouldn’t have slipped back in the hidden corners of my mind. I'm planning to keep an AlphaSmart Dana computer by my bedside instead of a notebook, however, mostly because I'm a computer geek and I don't seem to get enough of computers during the daytime.

But, whatever method you use to record your dreams, if you try this and your spouse asks you, “What the heck are doing at this hour?” during the middle of the night, just mysteriously explain to them that you’re working on a secret project, code named avocado, and get back to writing before the idea is gone and lost forever.


Weston Elliott said...

Make sure that you're actually awake when you write down your dreams! I grabbed a pen and paper in the middle of the night once and scribble away - so proud of myself for writing down that really great dream I just had - only to find complete gibberish when I read it the next morning. An absolutely useless string of words that could not be connected by the thinnest thread... And of course, I had no idea what the dream was about by then, either. Blah...

Darvell Hunt said...

Oh, that's awesome!

Many of the ideas I've had in the middle of night--those that I thought were SO COOL and would no doubt make me famous--didn't turn out so well once my conscious mind had time to review them.

That's the beauty of dream ideas, though: they aren't limited to what your mind thinks about when you're awake. Sometimes you get gibberish, sometimes you get genius.

I suppose it's like going to sleep and pulling the handle on a slot machine. Sometimes you get a winner, but sometimes you just lose big time. LOL.

It's a bit like rejections versus acceptances; the real winners make the losers worth it.