That question sounds simple and straightforward, but it isn’t.
Some dreams are meaningful, some aren’t. I’m convinced that there are dreams where the mind is just ‘doodling’ with images and events, with no intention at all. Other dreams hint at meanings, but finding them is harder than solving a Rubic’s Cube. Some defy any explanation, until you’re walking down the street one day forty years later and an answer comes to you in a flash.
Suppose we had a record of 1,000 of your dreams, and through analysis we proved that 13 of your dreams were meaningful according to some criteria, and 987 had no identifiable meaning.
The dream debunkers would point to the 987 number and declare it to be proof that dreams are meaningless and unimportant, discarding the 13 as just coincidences.
The dream enthusiasts would insist that the meaning in the 967 dreams simply hasn’t been identified, that they probably all have meaning.
I take a practical approach. I don’t worry about meaning. I focus on dreams that feel important to me. If a dream generates fear, or strong curiosity about some mystery, or a memorable image, or a feeling of love for someone or something, I make sure that I remember it by documenting it in my journal.
Don’t worry about ‘interpreting’ them. You have in you an instinctual understanding of dream language, one that you are born with, that doesn’t have to be learned. Most of us, unfortunately, need to re-connect with it. What you need to watch for are images and emotions.
Those images are often metaphor and symbol. Dreams are so steeped in metaphor that it is obvious that the language of metaphor is at least as old as humanity, maybe older. Metaphor and symbol may be at work in the minds of many other animals.
In other words, the images in a dream, and the emotions they generate, are the meaning. They don’t need to be translated. They only need to be remembered.
Psychologist C. G. Jung said more than once that dreams are facts. Whether you understand them or not doesn’t alter the fact of their existence, their reality. Another psychologist, Havelock Ellis, acutely conscious of the enigmatic nature of dreams, once said of them:
Dreams are real while they last; can one say more of life?