On Tuesday, hubby and I had to run errands, which took us one town over from where we live. On the way there, we ran into some road construction. Hubby was driving, so I glanced out the window at the guys working to build a short bridge over a swampy area right before you hit the town. Suddenly it clicked...all those dreams about road construction I've had over the past thirty years. Just like that, I understood what they meant.
I've been having recurring dreams about road construction since I was about three years old. My family moved around quite a bit when I was very young, because my dad worked as an industrial electrician. "Chasing jobs" as my parents called it. There was a lot of traveling back and forth between Louisiana and Texas during the late 70s - early 80s, because we had mom's family on one side of the state line, and dad's on the other. Too, dad had a lot of connections in the industry that kept him working from project to project. We were constantly on the go.
Anyway, when I was younger, road construction zones filled me with anxiety. I don't really know why, or what incident triggered that anxiety in me. I'm not afraid of construction zones in waking life, but when I was a child, I often would dream about waking up in the back seat of my parent's Oldsmobile Cutlass to find myself alone in the car, no one behind the wheel, and most of the time, the car would be speeding out of control through a construction zone. That dream in particular is one of the earliest dream memories that I can recall. I was about three or four when I had that dream the first time.
Over the years, the dream has become more complicated. Some of the construction zone dreams place me in a roller coaster cart, a mine cart, or in an unfamiliar car speeding down an unfamiliar stretch of interstate, or along a series of really curvy roads or tracks that are unfinished. Sometimes I know where I'm going in the dream. Other times, I'm completely lost. Sometimes I'm in control. Sometimes I can only sit there and see where the car takes me. There are many variations on the dream, but the theme and feeling is always the same.
A few years ago, I had this very vivid dream of driving in the car with either Mini or Oldest in the passenger seat. I was on this stretch of unfamiliar interstate, and I was following the road signs, trying to find my exit, when suddenly the traffic got very heavy. In the blink of an eye, the interstate was a tangled mess of construction. There were lots of loops and service roads. Most were torn up, rerouted, and such. There were a lot of road closed signs, and detour signs. That sort of thing.
I finally saw our exit number, and I merged into the exit lane on the right. The minute I was on the exit ramp, I realized I was in trouble. The road ended abruptly up ahead. It was a sudden change that went from heavy-concrete-paved-road to nothing but red dirt, construction cones, and rebar within just a few feet. I stopped the car right before I got to this patch of rebar sticking up out of the dirt, and this guy in a white construction hat looked at me from further down the road and began flagging me away.
Beside me, Mini or Oldest, whoever was with me, began crying because they were terrified. I looked out the car window on their side, and saw we were on a very narrow, sky high bridge with no barricades. Below was a rocky, forested area leading further down to calm water, like a slow moving river or something. Anyway, the construction team had cranes out there because they were preparing to put up the cement risers, the barricades meant to keep you from driving off the sides of the bridge. That's why all the rebar was there.
I was a nervous wreck in the dream. I had to either back up onto this off ramp somehow, or turn around in a really tight spot - with no safety barrier of any kind, with a huge drop beneath the bridge, and to make it all worse - my kid is in the car with me. So it's not just me in danger, it's my kid, too. I was terrified. My heart was pounding in the dream. The last part I remember, I was looking over my shoulder where the road was still part of the completed ramp, and trying to back my car onto it. There was a two foot gap between the road and the dirt, and there was more rebar sticking out. I woke up in a cold sweat.
That is one of many similar road terror dreams I've had over the years, but for some reason, that one in particular has really stuck with me. It's especially vivid in my mind. Probably because it was one of those rare dreams where someone was in the car with me.
But anyway...back to waking life...
As hubby and I were driving into Win-mill-land on Tuesday, I glanced out the Jeep window at the construction team. They were talking and laughing, while over in the swampy area to the right, a machine was pounding in the "foot supports" for the bridge. I saw all this, and a thought occurred to me out of the blue: there's really nothing scary about road construction. It's just a road being built for you that isn't finished yet.
As simple as that thought was, it triggered a major epiphany for me. It was like suddenly solving a thirty year old mystery. That's what it felt like.
So, road construction is made up of roads that aren't finished yet. They're paths that are going to be available for us in the future if and when they're completed, but they aren't available to us right now.
Think about that on a subconscious level. As a child, it was probably both a symbol of being confused by rules I didn't fully understand (road signs) and the future feeling out of control. Fear of the unknown. That sort of thing. I never truly knew what was on the path ahead of me. I never knew where we would be moving to one day to the next. Who would my classmates be at a new school? Would I fit in? Would I be left with a relative while my parents set up house in another state? Things like that understandably cause anxiety in a child.
As an adult, I believe it's still about fear of the unknown - at least in part. I also feel like it means I'm still building pathways to where I want to be in my waking life. In addition to knowing that the path isn't ready for me yet, the dreams I've had most of the time, indicate I'm alone in my journey (the empty car symbol). But in the dream where I have Mini or Oldest in the car, that's a subconscious indicator that I'm aware the result of whatever choices I make on my own, in one way or another, affects my family. (Crying kidlet in the car.)
In our waking life, we work toward goals daily. Big and small ones. Even with the small goals, we're basically building pathways to take us from a concept or an idea, to the start of a goal, and onward to that unknown place where we fulfill our goal in the future. The road construction dream is almost a perfect map of that process. In the dream, the road is where I want to be subconsciously, but I'm not ready to take that path yet. The road hasn't been completed. The road isn't ready for me.
Thinking about the dream that way makes so much sense to me. It's says I'm trying to go too far too fast, before my road is built. I still have work to do before the road ahead of me is finished. My subconscious is telling me to slow down, take it easy, and don't try to speed through life. I'll be able to drive on that new road in the future, but I have to lay the foundation first. I have to put up the safety risers before I can go there. In other words, I'll reach my goals eventually, because I'm actively building toward them. And if I keep building, I'll end up where I'm supposed to be in due time.
This post probably sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo to some people, but I'm glad I understand what the dreams mean now. In the future, should I dream of road construction again, I'll know it's my subconscious trying to tell me to slow down, and either wait for those pathways to open up for me, or I need to roll up my sleeves and work on building a road to get me to that place where I want to be.