Dreaming Myself into Old Age: One Woman’s Search for Meaning

Bette Davis claimed, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies!” And there’s some truth to that notion. But it’s also true that old age is not to be missed. An important life phase that offers its own mysteries to be solved, it deserves our full attention both from our conscious and unconscious minds. Old age can be one of our richest stages because it forces us to examine more closely what meaning life has and to seek answers.

To accomplish this, at the beginning of 2012, in my seventy-second year, I decided to return to analysis. I felt it was time to explore my fears of aging and dying. Fortunately, I found Dr. Y, a Jungian analyst who also is a psychiatrist, so he merges the rational world of science with the more mystical one Carl Jung embodies. Of course, Jung also was an MD, grounded in the scientific method. But for me, Jung’s esoteric ideas about the psyche, which I devoured from the time I first discovered his writing in my late twenties, overshadowed the scientist. I love how Jung evokes the multiplicity of things—the magic, the mystery, the mythic dimension. And that’s what I aim for in this exploration.

One question I’ve been asking myself as I write about aging is what my goals are. In part, I hope that reflecting on my final years will help me to better understand my own maturing process and deepen it. In sharing this progression, my readers will make their own discoveries, as has been true for me whenever I’ve read about someone else’s journey.

But I also believe that aging offers its own mysteries for us to explore, and that is part of my quest here as well. It can be one of our richest stages because it forces us to examine more closely what meaning life has and to seek answers. I take the reader behind the scenes of my late-life Jungian analysis where, during some of my weekly sessions, my nightly dreams become a focus. Dreams, like poetry and other art forms, employ a special image language that we can understand more deeply if we spend time with them. They also offer insights insights into ourselves and our world that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

Please join me on my journey when Shanti Arts publishes my hybrid memoir in 2023.