Sleep on it for insights

Your dream can reveal something about the changes in your life and your feelings towards them

The dream was so vivid that I woke up with a start. I looked at the clock on the bedside table and it was exactly 3am.

Moments before, I had just finished speaking to a hotel manager on the phone.

It seems I had left my car at his hotel. Even the name of the hotel was so clear in my mind - Ruthin Hotel. How it actually got there was a bit of a blur, a sort of dream within a dream.

Something had happened the night before which I couldn't quite recall. I had driven the car to a dinner function somewhere and all I could remember was that I was wearing a suit and I might have drunk quite a lot of alcohol.

Whatever it was, it was now the next morning.

I had woken up late, around noon, with a bit of a hangover and realised that I did not have my car with me anymore.


ST ILLUSTRATION: ADAM LEE

I sat at home trying to remember where I had left it. I had a vague flashback of driving the car in the Stevens Road area, coming out of one of the smaller roads into the main road.

Then another flashback of standing in a crowded bus going somewhere - home, presumably.

Did I leave the dinner with the car, only to find that I was too drunk to drive it? Did I then abandon the car somewhere, fearing a roadblock on a major road, and take a night bus home?

It seemed like the logical explanation. Except then, where was the car now? How could I hope to find it?

In the dream, I remember contemplating whether I should borrow a friend's car and drive around the Stevens Road area until I found my car.

But then I hit on another idea.  I went to my computer, opened up the Internet browser and went to "www.findmycar.com".

Incredibly, the search threw up the exact location of the car (yes, with a little red droplet arrow and a small picture of the site and everything). It was at a place called Ruthin Hotel.

So I called up the hotel and he said, ah yes, you left your car here overnight. I pleaded with the manager to release my car.

"I can come down now to show you all the documents to prove that I'm the owner of this car," I said. 

I am not sure why I did not have the car key, but dreams are like that, I guess.

All he said was: "Don't be silly.  There's no need. Just come and get your car."

That was when I woke up.

Everyone has dreams and can recall some part of them. But this one was the most real and vivid dream I had had in years, maybe decades.

So the next morning, I did what any self-respecting Singaporean would do. I bought 4D - all 24 permutations of my car number plate for that Wednesday evening's draw.

I also Googled Ruthin Hotel.  Apparently, there is a Ruthin Castle Hotel in Wales.

According to its website, it is "set within acres of woods and parkland a little over 20 miles from Chester, in an area of outstanding natural beauty".  

First built in 1277, I would describe it the way I describe some people I know - pretty, but haunted. One day, I decided, I will go there. Meanwhile, I resisted buying a second 4D ticket.

Finally, of course, I looked up the meaning of the dream.

Why do people do that? If you asked someone who studied Shakespeare, or my late grandmother (who used to regularly relate to me the dreams she had the night before), they will tell you dreams portend the future.

They seem to give you a sign that something good or bad could happen and, in your waking life, you wonder how you might bring it about or avoid it. Sometimes, they seem to be almost clairvoyant, highlighting something you may not know or see.

But the more common theory is not that dreams tell you something about the future, but that they tell you something about the present.

And because dreams are a manifestation of the mind and the subconscious, they tell you something about yourself.

When I looked up the meaning of my dream, it was clear that dreaming about a car or some sort of vehicle had something to do with the direction the dreamer's life was taking and whether he or she had control of it.

Some people have more violent dreams not just about driving the car but crashing it, which apparently signals not just that they have lost control, but that they are headed for a disaster.

But mine was a milder dream, according to the numerous "dream dictionaries" on the Internet.

Losing the car, then finding it, is a sign of a temporary loss of control. The fact that I recall riding in a bus to get home means that perhaps for a moment, there are forces helping me to get to where I want to go.

Even searching for my car on the computer has a meaning. Doing something on the computer could suggest that what's bothering you could be job-related.

Dreaming of searching for something on the Internet could further represent a "need or desire to connect and communicate with others or may represent your social or professional network or connections" or symbolise knowledge or a desire or need to learn something new, says a site called DreamsCloud.

At least the Internet connection was working, or else it would signal "a miscommunication or an inability to get your message across to someone".

When I put it all together, it all made sense, of course. 

After 17 years as a reporter and an editor in the newsroom (and enjoying every single moment of it), I had just moved on to a new role within the organisation.

I still work for a news media giant and, in many cases, with the same bosses and colleagues.

But make no mistake, it is a full-fledged career change for me and, moreover, it is happening in my mid-40s.

All the articles say this sort of dream is not uncommon for people starting new jobs and reflects the mix of anxiety and bewilderment they feel as they get pushed out of their comfort zones.

Other people have dreams about being back in school and being unprepared for an examination or even realising they are naked in front of their colleagues. By and large, they reflect the same temporary insecurities that every newbie feels.

The good news is that it has been two weeks now since I started my new job and I am more settled in.

Sure enough, the dreams have also changed.

Last night, I had a dream that featured the same car I lost the other night. This time, I had an app (looking very much like Uber) that allowed me to summon the car, which would drive itself autonomously to my location.

In the dream, I tested the app and the car a few times.  Then one day, I felt confident enough to ask the car to go to my parents' house and drive them to my place.

My parents arrived safe and sound, amazed with the state of today's technology.

I woke up again with a start, wondering what this one meant.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'Sleep on it for insights'. Print Edition | Subscribe