By Gregg Unterberger, M.Ed, LPC
My head violently slammed against the Prius’ passenger front seat window as the driver rocketed around the curve. “For God’s sake, slow down!” I blurted. But the driver, steely-eyed and deaf to my cries, glared resolutely straight ahead, wraith-like hands clutching the wheel. I was seeing stars and was somewhat in shock. After all, I had known the person behind the wheel for years and had trusted her. I had never seen her drive this way.
My new Prius had been a dream car for me. I had purchased the hybrid, brand new, just a few months ago. It was better for the planet, saved me money on gas, and admittedly, while not a Lexus, was comfortable. I had bought it with all the bells and whistles I had wanted. I regretted allowing her to take the wheel.
The car swerved again to the left, this time not as dramatically, narrowly avoiding some large metals bowls in the road. My head was still muddled, but out of the corner of my eye, in the side mirror, I caught a vision of some kind of scraps in the bowls. Isn’t that bizarre? It’s as though someone put out some food for some stray dogs, but not on the sidewalk. They put them almost halfway out in the road. If the dogs come out to eat, surely they will get hit by traffic, I thought. Silently, I cursed the unknown perpetrators.
But those thoughts spent only microseconds in my mind as we rapidly approached a bridge that I knew was under construction. One of the lanes of the bridge was complete, while the other was only half finished. “Turn right, turn right, turn right!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, reaching towards the wheel, while the driver yanked it to the left, rumbling over discarded construction lumber, taking a dangerous fork. She shifted gears and stomped on the gas, the car rocketing forward, my neck snapping backwards, my skull banging on the upholstered headrest. Why was she doing this?
In the dim light, I could see we were hurtling towards a black-and white stripped barricade dead ahead, supported precariously by two sawhorses. The bridge was incomplete; the only thing standing between 2,000 pounds of rolling steel and a 200-foot drop were paltry two-by-fours and flashing yellow lights. “Please,” I begged, our speed increasing, “please stop! You’re going to kill us!”
But she was hell-bent, the car racing towards a destiny that I didn’t choose, didn’t want, and couldn’t stop. The sound of the nose of the car breaking the barricade was sharp and deafening; the wood retching as it splintered, the headlights shattering, tinkling: ghastly chimes in a symphony of destruction. In an instant, time slowed down beyond slow motion, like something out of a Hollywood action film. I was both in the car and out of the car, observing omnisciently. Outside the car, I could see it arching upward, wheels turning slowly, releasing their grip on the pavement, splintered planks and dust suspended in mid-air. The automobile hung briefly in the sky, all but motionless, reaching its apogee. For a moment, I thought it might take flight, soaring off towards the full moon. But a second later, gravity kicked in, and as the black-and-white lumber pirouetted and spiraled below the wheels, plunging downward, the front of the car began following the debris obligingly, nosing towards the water, hundreds of feet below.
Simultaneously, I was inside the doomed vehicle, gripping the dash, preparing myself for the inevitable impact that would take forever and come too soon. I could hear the metal groan and the low roar of the wind as my field of vision through the windshield tilted from a star-lit night sky, to the cityscape on the horizon before me, and then finally to the waters below as gravity’s unrelenting grasp took hold. It was too late: too late to decide not to get in the car, too late to get out of the car, too late to stop the driver. My fate was sealed, certain death was seconds away.
Two very strange thoughts crossed my mind.
First: Maybe, just maybe, if I keep breathing and relax into the present moment, I could live though this. Second: If I live through this, I will have to get a whole new car.
And then below me, water, crystal clear, illuminated by some unseen subterranean luminescence, glowed and rushed to meet the windshield of the car.
I awoke from the dream with a start. My eyes did not open. Mother Nature, in her wisdom, protects the body from acting out dreams physically during sleep as the base of the brain shuts down the neurons in the spinal cord. The formal term is sleep paralysis. But my experience was sheer terror. My heart was pounding, I was breathing heavily, but my body was frozen for several minutes. Gradually, my appendages stirred as I realized I had been dreaming and that I was safe in a hotel bed cocooned in Egyptian cotton, surrounded by fluffy pillows. But that momentary relief transformed into panic as I spontaneously began interpreting the dream. I have learned that with my eyes still closed and my mind close to the sleep state, profusely cycling theta and alpha waves, I can often intuitively understand my dreams. The dream symbols were familiar ones and the meaning was clear, horrifyingly clear.
My new car was the reflection of my new affluent life: my private practice as a therapist was increasingly successful, and I was lecturing all over the country. But the woman behind the wheel had taken control of our very lives: she was “in the driver’s seat,” not me. I could protest all I wanted, but it was too late. There were scraps to be had; enough to live on, but to stay like a starving dog and eat them might kill me. The bridge, a symbol of transition from one arena of life to another was ahead of us, but she did not take the “right” path, which could take us safely across the water, but instead chose to take the left fork. I would be left. She was literally “driving us over the edge.”
[This article is an excerpt from the book from The Quickening: Leaping Ahead on Your Spiritual Journey.]
Gregg Unterberger, M.Ed., LPC, is a former instructor in Psychology at Texas State University and a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with offices in Houston and College Station, Texas. He has trained with leaders in the field of “accelerated” healing modalities, such as Dr. Allan Botkin, Dr. David Grand, Dr. Stanislav Grof & Grof Transpersonal Training, and Dr. Brian Weiss, author of the best-selling Many Lives, Many Masters. His case studies are featured in Dr. Weiss’s latest book Miracles Happen. He is the developer of two cutting-edge psycho-spiritual modalities: Transpersonal Breathwork and Spiritual Activation. His work has touched millions through his appearances, talks, and writing and his unique ability to help catalyze spiritual experiences.