We have evolved to store patterns rather than data points because most data is meaningless without a specific context. In our constant drive to make sense we are constantly looking for meaning in everything we encounter. A pattern gives context and connection to our experience and awareness and so gives us meaning. This pattern matching is a strategic survival strategy that gives an evolutionary edge and we learn best by analogies and metaphors.
Most of this sense making occurs at an unconscious level and we usually try to make sense of unfamiliar patterns by comparing them to familiar patterns that we have already experienced. This is how we make just about all our decisions. We try and fit the newness we are encountering to a pattern that we have seen before. Our unconscious awareness plays out these patterns for us, and all these characters, events, places and objects that we become aware of are constantly fitted into previously dreamt patterns.
However, because of our instinctual human drive to detect meaningful patterns in every situation that we encounter, we are open to pareidolia and the associated risks of seeing patterns or connections in random and meaningless data. We would rather make patterns out of nothing than appear to have no meaning at all in what we perceive. We unconsciously try to see patterns in any natural phenomena, in clouds, in flames and in scatter graphs of data. Much of our time can be spent trying to make meaning from the meaningless and trying to convince ourselves and others that we have a meaningful existence.
As well as giving us a strategic edge, patterns can limit us. The fluid patterns of our dreaming can become the fixed patterns of ritual as we try to control our dreams and set limits and boundaries. Many of the established patterns that are offered to us are a meaningless psycho tartan of dogma in reality. If we allow ourselves to get stuck in patterns of ritualised meanings we will keep finding ourselves in the same meaningless situation again and again. The stone tablets of ancient stories and rutted rituals of old patterns will become a calcified recurring nightmare.
Our unconscious awareness can meaningfully connect disparate patterns and detect hidden resonances between two apparently different systems. We can hear old rhythms in new variations and improvise our original songs upon them. As we contrast and compare all these patterns we are actively searching for what really matters to us and that is where we find meaning. We are looking for who we are, what we value, and what we believe, where we experience our beauty, love and truth. That’s what we are searching for when we dream. Beauty. Love. Truth.