Tag Archives: Waking Life

Look but Don’t Touch: What Dreams Teach about the Gift of Texture (CV)

Hand in hand

Hand in hand (Photo credit: Images by John ‘K’)

Look but don’t touch:

That’s one of those phrases children learn to despise. It basically means you are someplace where everything is inviting your fingers to press, tickle, caress, grab, or pet –but some adult is telling you that you must not.

Photo Credit: Aja Riggs

Photo Credit: Aja Riggs

Sometimes that’s how I feel when I wake from a dream. I’ve just walked through a beautiful landscape with the sun on my face, felt the weight of my long-gone cat in my lap, or held another’s hand in mine. And then I wake, and the pleasant sensation is but a memory. The people, animals, and objects we interact with in dreams can’t be brought into the waking world to hold again. We can’t even bring back a small souvenir from our travels to dreamland.

Photo Credit: Aja Riggs

Photo Credit: Aja Riggs

But within the dream, well that’s another story. It’s possible to experience physical sensations in a dream as precisely, or in some cases more so, than in waking life. I’ve experienced feeling everything from the slithery bodies of worms, to the crystal cold tingle of a bare foot in water, and the delicious heat of a lover’s body … among many other things … within a dream.

Those dreamed up moments, in one sense, are even more precious because they can’t be recreated in just that way when awake.

Which, really, when you think of it, is no different than the tactile world we open our eyes to each morning. That luscious pink rose petal sliding across your fingertips, the gritty sun-warmed sand beneath your bare feet in summer, the tickle of a baby’s fine hair on your neck … you can touch them for a moment, an hour, or a season… but ultimately they too disappear–like the barely remembered experiences in a dream.


It’s all so fleeting; in dreams and awake. So the best advice I know, whether in dreams or waking, is this: do look, do touch, and cherish the memories.


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