In her dream a woman is in a car hurtling down a slope with a drop-off into the water. This is not a good place to be. The dream shows imminent danger to the woman (and presumably to her car). If this situation were happening in real life—we would likely be panicking and afraid for our life. Waking up from such a dream causes us to ask: where in my life am I so out of control and what danger am I hurtling towards?
When a dream brings us such an urgent image, we are wise to sit up and pay attention. Such a dream lets us know that something is not right, that we are facing a threat of some kind. The dreaming mind does not say “maybe you should reconsider the path you are on.” Instead it shows us in a car hurtling toward a drop off into the water.
It is as if the dreaming mind has determined that there is no time left for niceties. Instead it chooses to dramatize the situation in a way that is impossible to miss. It opts for shock value—hoping to wake us up, to bring us to consciousness about what might be harmful to us.
Many years ago, I had a moment in which I considered radically altering the course I was on. Instead of pursuing the training program in which I had invested a great deal of time and energy, I thought about the possibility of dropping out and following a charismatic leader of a very different sort of program. At that time I had a dream in which I was a passenger in another woman’s car. She was driving too fast and we were rounding a dangerous curb with a steep drop-off below. I woke with my heart pounding and a clear sense that the change I was (so rashly) considering was not right for me.
In life, as in our dreams, we are always best placed in the driver’s seat. Driving in cars in our dreams mirrors the way we move through our experience—how we navigate and steer, how much energy (horse power) or drive we have, and by and large, who is running the show. The good news in this woman’s dream is that she is driving the car. The bad news is that the car is driving her—she has lost control, things are on automatic, she no longer has the ability to steer herself safely and move at the appropriate pace through her life.
We all have moments of moving too fast or heading in the wrong direction. We get caught up in something and may not realize that whatever we are doing is not right for us—now, in this moment, in this way. Dreams allow us to pause and look more closely at the choices we are making, the attitudes we hold, and the behaviors we engage in. A dream in which we are out of control and hurtling toward disaster is an immediate call to slow down and reevaluate where we are headed and how we are going about getting there.