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The Fascinating World of Dreams

By Ann Richardson February 20, 2023 Mindset

I am captivated by dreams and what they tell us. But I am not an expert. Just someone who has tried to interpret my own dreams – and occasionally those of my family, when asked.

Do you dream a lot? It can be very interesting to try to make sense of dreams.

I have no idea how often I dream. I often wake up knowing I have been in a deep and complicated dream, but it has vanished like steam by the time I am conscious.

Different Types of Dreams

Quite often, I have what might be called ‘everyday’ mundane dreams where what I am doing is not so different from my day-to-day life. They are OK.

And every once in a while, I have very special dreams, where I am being feted for something I have done or have come into a lot of money. I always wake up feeling great.

But the dreams I most remember are the worried or anxious dreams.

Traditional Anxiety Dreams

I sometimes get traditional anxiety dreams, where you are not in control and things are going wrong. These are not very frequent – only once a year or so. And they are usually of one of two kinds.

One is turning up for an exam and realising that I forgot to study for it. I can even wonder, in the dream, why I forgot to study, but I am always ill prepared. The dream never gets to the point of my writing out the exam and certainly not getting the results.

As I like to be prepared for things, this is never a good way to spend the night. I don’t want to be ‘found out’ as someone unable to perform as expected.

An even more anxiety-producing dream is where I have no clothes on, although everyone else does. I also wonder sometimes, within the dream, how I managed to forget my clothes or to be wearing very skimpy ones. I tend to decide to ‘make the best of it’ and hope other people won’t notice that I am not dressed.

Again, I rarely arise refreshed after such a dream. Without clothes, you are so vulnerable and incompetent, especially in the world of the clothed.


When I was roughly 50 and beginning to get hot flushes (‘flashes’ in the US), I had a very obviously symbolic dream that I remembered very vividly – and still do.

I had moved to a new flat that was quite spacious, and I was very happy about that. But unfortunately, there were a lot of people in one room of the flat who seemed to have parties all night long. Lots of drinking and smoking and loud noise.

I said to my husband (in my dream) that surely we could get rid of these very noisy and unpleasant people living within our own flat. No, he said, they had a very tight contract and could not be evicted.

I woke up. But what a perfect metaphor for the nuisances of menopause. They are within you, and you cannot get rid of them.

Growing Old

One would think that as we grow older – and I am now 81, so I am definitely in the “older” category – we would dream about being old. In fact, I am never old in my dreams. I am usually something vaguely middle-aged, say 45 or so.

Indeed, from time to time, I dream that I am pregnant (I have two grown-up children and two teen-age grandchildren, so I know what being pregnant is like but it was all a long time ago).

But I do dream about growing old symbolically. A common symbol of my well-being is a house or flat or sometimes a car. See what you think.

I am often house-hunting (for no obvious reason) in my dreams and the flats or houses that I find are almost always a bit dilapidated or in other ways less desirable than I would like. Recently, the flat I had found was on the eighth floor with no elevator. I had to climb stairs and it was hard work.

Just like getting old.

And I have a lot of dreams about travelling, clearly symbolic of the journey of life. I recently dreamt that I was at the airport, about to take off for somewhere and everyone in my party had a huge amount of baggage. Not a lot of interpretation required there.

And many of my dreams are about driving, which seems so symbolic of one’s ability to control one’s own ‘vehicle’. These are often at night, where nothing is very clear. Or I am at a party and realise that I am going to have to drive home at night. In real life, I have always hated driving at night.

Perhaps the strangest one of all was a recent dream where the steering wheel for the car that I was driving was in the back seat, so it was very difficult to see the road.

Make of these what you will, but to me they are all about preparing myself for something that is very difficult.

And yet, having said all this, I do like being old and have written about it extensively.

A friend of mine, Hilke Tiedemann, has just published a new book of short stories and poems. One short poem resonated with me for reasons that must be obvious and I attach it for you now with Hilke’s permission.

In My Dreams

In my dreams
I am never old,
My heart is never cold.

In my dreams
I am more real than real;
One hundred percent.

Primal force,
Visions and epiphanies,
A moment of eternity.

In my dreams
I am never old.

Hilke Tiedemann, 2023

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you remember your dreams? Are they happy or anxious dreams? Can you recount any of them?

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Toni Stritzke

A frequent dream of mine is finding an antique store or an old room with boxes and drawers and wardrobes full of beautiful lace, velvet and silk clothes. I see so many and I’m absolutely thrilled to have found them but I can’t carry them all and the shop/room is about to close and I must hurry, hurry.
I’ve had this dream at different ages in my life.
My other recurring dream is walking in a great space or fun fair, often with wide stairs, passing crowds of people, searching for someone. What does that one mean?

Ann Richardson

Well, the antique store is fairly easy to imagine as being you, growing older, full of lovely aspects of your earlier life and you feel good about it (this works even if you did have the same dream throughout your life). Perhaps you need to hurry to enjoy it while it lasts. Searching for someone in a great space is more difficult. Can you be looking for your true self amidst the crowds of people around? Only you can say if that makes sense to you. Good luck.

shaggy maggie

Love your personal revelations….May I add my recurring dream? A man of about 28 years is interested in me. The feelings are mutual. But I suddenly realize that I really MUST tell him that I just turned 72. After thinking about this dream, I realized that I needed to face it: I am no longer young!! Sounds silly, but the dream stoped.

Ann Richardson

I think you still feel young and attractive, which is great. but you also realise that you are growing older. Nothing wrong with feeling young and attractive, in fact it is the best way to be, but you also have the wisdom to know you are growing older. Way to go! I hope you have someone who tells you that you are still very pretty to him!

Cheryl Beech

My dreams are vivid and overwhelming. I wake up and need a moment to realise that I am back to reality.


I found this very interesting. I dream most nights and usually remember my dreams. They are similar to yours. Travel, houses, driving. I even had the driving from the backseat dream. More often, a road is closed and I must turn around or maneuver past it. Then I need to find parking on the street. Somehow, there is always a convenient spot close. The houses are always fixer uppers with many rooms and levels. Usually old Victorian or Queen Anne homes that need extensive work. I am never daunted by this, but excited to start the work. I do love dreaming! Thanks for sharing yours.

Ann Richardson

I am very surprised. I thought my crazy brain was the only one that would dream up a steering wheel in the back seat of a car. Tough driving that way! It looks to me that you are happy with your life – you find that wanted parking space without difficulty. And to find well-built fixer uppers that you look forward to fixing up is perfect – you have a life of interesting activity in front of you. What could be better.


I frequently have very complex dreams that I can recall for a day or, but I have to make an effort to do so. Then, as you said, they just float away.
I sometimes get recurring dreams, particularly when I’m very anxious or feel out of control. The dreams are always that we have to move back to a previous home that we had lived in, in the past. Over time, as I revisit them in dreams, the conditions change, such as initially there are bugs or scary rooms. Later there may be pretty, new rooms with large closets. The dreams have moved through all 3 of our previous rentals. So strange… I always wake up grateful to be where I am now….

Ann Richardson

Well, I am no expert, but it seems to me your unconscious is telling you that you prefer being where you are in life (your life is enlarged (large closets) and nicer) than where you used to be (bugs etc). And the fact that you wake up grateful is further evidence. I always think that the real ‘proof’ of any interpretation is whether it feels right for you. Only you can answer that.

The Author

Ann Richardson’s most popular book, The Granny Who Stands on Her Head, offers a series of reflections on growing older. Subscribe to her free Substack newsletter, where she writes fortnightly on any subject that captures her imagination. Ann lives in London, England with her husband of sixty years. Please visit her website for information on all her books:

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