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DRIVER'S TEST

Dreamed 1984/1/8 by Chris Wayan

Painting of a dream by Chris Wayan. I descend into a Jungian underworld trying to get my driver's license. A flying coyote and a woman holding a rope offer help and advice; a skeletal nurse draws blood, a centaur with a cat's head throws lightning bolts, and a clawed birdlike monster mutters 'test to destruction'.


It's not easy to get a California driver's license now that the Department of Motor Vehicles has gone Jungian.

So here I am at a gas station, going through the Jungian Mysteries. Not a quick process.

They take me to a clinic in the back. A nurse draws blood--from my forehead. She leaves a stinging gash on my temple. Careless, or a ritual scarring? No pain, no gain, I guess...

Next, they strap me into a car, hook up remote controls, and prepare to drag-race me onto the freeway like a crash-test dummy. Ding! The car leaps forward, roaring. They can crash me, kill me... and I have to go through three of these road tests. How do I get back to do the second? I wrestle for control of the car and finally pull off the freeway and park.

I have to return on foot, the Jungian way. The route leads through brooding, lightless caves--old lava tubes, like the hideouts used by the tribes in the Modoc War. I climb rocks in the dark. Crude stone steps. Up toward a faint light...

An old cave-in! An oval pit of daylight and hanging ferns. I feel relieved; it's the halfway point on the journey back.

Still, I'm stuck in a pit. How to climb out? Look for handholds, and start up the wall. But atop the cliff, an official with a bullhorn appears, and blats at me: "Get back down!"

The second half is underground too? Damn Carl Jung for his cavernous tastes! I protest "This doesn't reflect real driving conditions! How the hell often do you drive in caves?"

But the voice from on high blares: "Too bad. Either spelunk, or no license."

In the mouth of the next cave, a huge, crude centaur-shape lurches slowly to light. The God of the Underworld!

Behind me something clinks. Bone on bone. A giant, living skeleton. Its aura is mocking, rebellious, sly. Death, or Road Rage, or maybe Red Light Jumping...

Behind it, an army of ghosts and skeletons skitters into the pit and lines up facing the god. I'm caught in their battle-pit, in the line of fire. All I wanted was my driver's license.

I climb up the walls of the lava pit, not caring who wins the crown of the underworld behind me.

At the top I look back from the cliff's edge. Suddenly the unified earth dissolves, and through the floor of the pit, I see stars. The far lip of the pit stays solid, but a crack widens between us till all that's left are two isles in infinite space. I'm supposed to jump to the other side; it's the next step in my ordeal.

I hesitate, unsure I can; it's too far. Either the isles are drifting apart or I'm shrinking, for the gulf seems wider. Too big for sure, now. I watch hopelessly.

A woman walks up on my sky-island and I say "I need help. I must get over there."

She smiles. "Oh, no problem." And picks me up in one hand, like a basketball, and tosses me across space!

I land in a theater. On the movie screen is The War Of The Gods. My family's here, including my godmother. We're in Renaissance clothes. We'll have to perform in a play with Shakespearean ghosts, in British period accents--or else.

One bullying ghost steals something from me. I assemble a huge hypodermic and threaten him with it. He goes pale--it's not sterile and I can inject a big air bubble in his vein.... he backs down. I tell him "Never bother me again." One foe defeated at least.

That wins me a car-trip back, I guess. My boss at work drives me, to my surprise.

There's a huge crowd waiting to enter the DMV, an endless coiled line. But my boss wiggles her hips and hikes her skirt up to her thighs and says "Let us in now, and I'll... let you in, later."

To me, my boss is no more attractive than a crocodile, but the bouncer looks her over and waves us in. No accounting for tastes.

I'm impatient to start Road Test #2, which I know is easier. My boss wants me to do other tasks--turns out she just wants me to hold her place in line! Disgusted with her, I leave the line and DEMAND Road Test 2.

A nurse leads me to a cafe table, says "Sit. We have to test for nosebleeds." She jabs a teaspoon up each nostril!

I scream "OWWW!"

"Yep," says the nurse happily, checking a box, "your nose bleeds." Detail of a dream-painting by Chris Wayan. A hand holds up a spoon dripping blood.

People stare at me in disgust. One kid mutters "Look at that! Must be the biggest cokehead on the planet."

I think helplessly "I'm not!"

I pull out the spoons, but blood spatters all over my shirt, and I have to stuff napkins up my nose. They form huge pink kleenex tusks. I am the Nose Walrus.

Now they really stare. Jung's inner journeys never seemed to involve Nose Walruses.

Next the nurse brings a written test. Doing the road tests was supposed to exempt me, but she insists. The joke's on her--I studied up! Though I can barely see round my (reddening) paper tusks, I fill it out in a minute flat, not the hour they expected. They're not stopping me!

Finally they're FORCED to administer the next road test. Applicants must slide down a wiggling conveyor belt. I pull my jeans off and wear my bright red cutoffs. A woman sliding ahead of me asks about them. I'm evasive, embarrassed, but at last I admit, "yes, I dyed them specially. You slide further in hot pants than ordinary ones."

At the bottom of the slide, the other applicants all disappear up some hidden stair. I can't find it, so to get back up to the third test, I climb a pile of boxes and motor-casings for the machines running the conveyor belts. The woman curious about my red shorts follows me up. Squeeze through an oval trap-door hatch and pull her up behind me.

I held onto my dream-notebook through all of this. Aren't you proud of me?

The DMV's nurse yells STOP! As I slide down for my third Road Test, an official asks sharply "WHERE did you go to college?" I'm flustered, distracted, but get in a lotus pose and negotiate the curves of the slide while chanting "San-Ta-Cruuuuuuuz" and make it down safely. Done!

Only they tell my friend and me "Sorry, we have to re-do that third one." I'm finally getting mad. Even for California this is a bit much.

But we climb up again. She and I help each other more, touch more freely. We're becoming a team. We slide down again, successfully.

But they call a halt! No explanation. Four tests aren't enough? What's going on here? They're not just unreasonable, not just surreal, not just incompetent. They're SINGLING ME OUT. This is personal.

How long will it take till I face it? No matter what I do, they're NEVER going to give me my license.

If I want to drive, I have to quit waiting for their permission.

NOTE IN THE MORNING Painted image of a California driver's license with a note under the photo: 'Always look your worst.'

I'm pretty sure that getting my driver's license doesn't just mean finding my "identity." The license is to drive--to act on my drives and ambitions, in love, in career, in art.

Only my inner cops will NEVER approve of my drives! So why am I still jumping through hoops, worrying about my motives, trying to compromise with guilt? If I go for what I want, they'll make me feel shitty inside, period. I have to learn to ignore those voices, inner and outer... and go ahead.

Either drive without a license, or never drive at all.



LISTS AND LINKS: ambition - healing from abuse - initiation rites - cops and authorities - caves and the underworld - frustration dreams - weird dream humor - approval-seeking - Jungian dreams - painting - more weird dreams of driver's tests: Yes, Emma, One Pound Onions and My Poetic License

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