Nissan Leaf as a Dream Symbol

Nissan Leaf

Photo by Laura K. Deal

Last May, my husband and I bought our first new car—a Nissan Leaf. It’s all electric, no gasoline. We use it for almost all of our driving; having plug-ins at or near all the places we usually go. A couple of weeks ago, it showed up for the first time in dreams, and then a few days later it showed up again. So I’ve been considering the associations I have with it. Here goes (with some input from my husband):

Because it was such a big purchase, my husband researched it and considered it for a long time. So in a dream, it represents a considered decision, a choice made for altruistic reasons as well as personal enjoyment, and a wise investment.

When we took delivery of it, the salesman said that my husband and I are among the pioneers, adopting the technology before all the infrastructure is in place, thereby creating more demand for the infrastructure. This isn’t our usual habit with technology—we tend to be late adopters of whatever the most recent thing is, so in that sense the Leaf represents reaching in a new direction, and something done out of character. Since we bought the car in order to stop burning fossil fuels, the direction of the reach is one of global consideration and a recognition of the interconnected web of all existence and the effort to bend the arc of change in a way that looks better to us.

One of the most important places to be able to charge the car is at my dad’s house, just far enough away that I wouldn’t want to risk getting stranded on the way home if I had to go there and back without topping up. So we asked if we could install an new outlet in my dad’s garage, to which he readily agreed. Since my dad and my husband are the two most important men in my life, they model the Masculine archetype for me, and I can’t help but project my own masculine identity on to them. The Leaf and its associated new outlet therefore represent one way in which my masculine aspects are in harmony with each other. (And this new effort to change the infrastructure of the world requires a new outlet, or mode of expression.)

Another way in which my husband and dad agree is that we all pay extra for our energy company to buy wind power. We understand that the energy we actually use may come from coal, but we pay the company to supply as much energy as we use from wind. So the Leaf is wind-powered, like a leaf blowing in the wind, which reminds me to watch the way the wind blows and to steer my life accordingly.

Which brings me to the association we heard most often from friends when they found out that we’d bought a Leaf: they made a joke about turning over a new leaf. It was truer than they might have thought, for we were making a change in our lives from contributing to carbon emissions every time we turned on the engine, to trying help the planet. We understand that the manufacture of the car created carbon emissions, but we hope we offset that by driving every car before this until it was on its very last legs, and buying or acquiring all those cars used. So when I dream of the Leaf, I think about making a new start at something; giving up a bad habit. The habit of driving gasoline vehicles was started somewhat innocently in a time when very few people realized the possible danger, and which now is hard to change, as most bad habits are, despite any amount of evidence that a change should be made.

One of the most fun parts of driving the Leaf is how it regenerates energy, or rather captures the energy of braking and coasting and puts that juice back in the battery. There’s a fair bit of alarm watching the estimated miles drop dramatically fast when climbing a mountain, but there’s a visceral pleasure in having the miles pile back up when driving down the mountain. This is a metaphor for resting and rejuvenating after a big effort, and serves to remind me to allow myself to recuperate. It points out to me that I have made choices which lead to dissipation of energy (physical or spiritual), but I can make choices that recapture that energy.  One way is to spend moments acknowledging all the good things that happen, and celebrating even small successes rather than instantly moving on to the next possibility for failure.

There are a couple of unpleasant associations with the Leaf for me. One is a fear of being stranded (and the attendant inconvenience of having to stop for an hour somewhere to recharge enough to get home), and cold feet. “Range anxiety” is what the salesman called the first phenomenon. I’ve been stranded by gasoline cars more than once, and it’s among my least favorite and most anxiety producing events I’ve been through. So I’m reluctant to push the range of how far I can go, and in that way the Leaf represents a limiting factor on my growth and ambitions. I see another aspect of that same limit in the metaphorical meaning of the literal cold feet I get when driving the Leaf in the winter. To keep my feet from getting painfully cold (a chronic problem of mine, given poor circulation), I have to turn the heater up quite high, which drains the battery enough that I try to use it as little as possible. Of course, we say “cold feet” when we mean that someone didn’t go through with a change out of fear. They chickened out. So the Leaf in a dream makes me ask, “Where am I getting cold feet in my life?”

We would have bought a green car if the Nissan Leaf came in green. Honestly. It’s a “green” car, and it’s a Leaf, but it doesn’t come in green? Who was thinking about this? Anyway, we got the blue one, because that’s always been my favorite color and it sounded better than black or silver (which we’ve had), white (which shows the dirt), or red (just not us). The blue of the car isn’t my favorite shade of blue, but it’s a light sky blue, and so our Leaf conjures all the associations I have with the color blue when it shows up in my dream. And by being a car, it brings all those general associations as well.

There are a few, even more personal associations I have with the Leaf, but this has gone on long enough. I didn’t realize when I sat down to write this just how laden a symbol it is.



1 comment to Nissan Leaf as a Dream Symbol

  • Kay Gschwind

    How very unfortunate they did/do not offer it in a leaf-green color! I agree, what were they thinking!! This was a nice read, very thoughtful and I loved the metaphors. Thank you.

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