UC | Keep on dreaming


The function of dreams is still unknown. Some think it has no function, others attach a magical predictive value to it. I myself have an idea about it now. It became clear to me just the other day.

Our family expanded a while back. No, not a baby, but it comes close. It's a dog, or rather, a puppy. The breeder - a recognized one, not a bread breeder- asked if we had any experience. No, we didn't. And then she said the predictive words: if it does not click between you and the puppy, call me, because it can be quite heavy and there are plenty of people who would like to have these kind of dogs. We will take care of that for you.

Good trick, because my daughters immediately felt that this puppy had to be with us, all the way. And yes, of course I fell for it. My life now consists only of dog experiences. My fellow UC peers are already complaining about it too, and rightly so.

Basically, it's like getting to raise a baby (again), but one with razor-sharp teeth that likes to bite into everything. Ofcourse he is also cute, super cute. A ball of wool with big eyes. He has the misfortune - and we with him - that he has - let's keep it clean - intestinal problems. Besides super enthusiastic modes, he has his moments of uncontrollability and not to forget an irregular sleep rhythm. In the middle of the night he cries it out. And he already has a high pain threshold. Very pathetic.

And you can guess who gets to comfort him, take care of him, walk him. We can't do that to our daughters, can we? Meanwhile, I have a sleep deprivation greater than my supply of vacation days, because I can entertain a dog at night. And the rest of the family is also kept awake by barking and moaning. I'll just call him Max, Max Payne - like a computer game, and I'm the end boss....

The thought of calling the breeder sometime and giving our pup another loving family slowly begins to grow. A redeeming idea in a blur of corona measures, kids at home, work at home, sometimes in the cold, grooming, intestinal examinations and sleep deprivation. So for me, there was a small light at the end of the tunnel. Until a few days ago. Our dog finally slept through the night. And I was able to sleep a little longer, and for dessert I had a dream. About our dog. The theater of my mind was dusted off and everything was rigged for a full-5D experience.

From the garden, I hear my wife yell that Max got hit by a car. Blood, drool, stench, but he's still breathing - a smelly hopeful breath. With the RB16B I take Max to the hospital like Max Verstappen. Adrenaline out of my ears, burning rubber, ignoring traffic lights, but what a road holding! With squealing tires I stop in front of the hospital. I carefully carry him inside. It looks bad. A team of nurses pours themselves on him. Pieces of fur are shaved away, needles pricked, equipment connected. Everything is pulled out of the closet, but nothing seems to help. The doctor looks at me somberly from behind her thick glasses; I can prepare myself for the worst. The family is informed.

With a slight sense of panic, I wake up. I realize that our puppy has become too dear to me. The fear I feel in my dream underscores my inescapable affection. And what I feel, my daughters must feel ten times stronger. The tunnel with the light at the end has totally collapsed. Max has defeated the final boss. Dreaming as the simulator to bring feeling and reason back together. The ultimate reality check.

Dreams make clear what we think is important. We also make that clear to our students: dare to dream. But why don't we grant that to our staff, our scientists? The work pressure has been going on for so long now that even the minister confirms it. Prolonged work pressure, prolonged stress leads to sleep deprivation, and causes feelings and reason to drift apart. We think we know where we want to go, but we don't feel it. Certainly not in these corona times, where informal contact - the social lubricant - is largely absent and work pressure has not decreased.

On the contrary. It was already not good. I think many will soon feel the same way, especially when everything returns to the 'new normal': dejected. And not because they too have purchased a puppy. The dream of returning to normal, will not look quite as hoped. But eventually we will start to feel what we are thinking again. It will take some time. Just like my dog.

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