On the school run, I noticed what I see everyday — people driving cars.
Moms in minivans, shiny silver sports cars straight out of the carwash, ten year old Toyota’s with bumpers hanging off. Yet, today I wondered what was driving them? What was driving the person driving the car? What force pushed them to push the petal and steer the wheel? Where they going whichever way they chose or was their direction dictated by daily routes and routines?
They inside their cars, and a world within them. Each car. Carrying each person. And, what is it that they are carrying or that is carrying them? I think of the world I carry within in me. Complex. Carefree. Hurting. Hopeful. Heavy. Free.
Yesterday, I wanted to hide in my car, in me. And, tomorrow, I might feel like I can’t possibly go another day driving in the same direction with myself.
A shiny silver sports car may be carrying a heavier load then the old pick up truck that was made for hauling heavy things. And, that beat up junker with the bumper hanging off – – about to come undone, like the seat seams that have already unraveled on the inside, may be driven by the wealthiest man in the world, who has everything he will ever need, and it has nothing to do with dollars.
Is the businessman driving the black BMW driving his life? Is life driving the mom in the minivan? Do you have to choose to drive life or does life sometimes take the wheel and steer you? I think both. I’m no proponent of giving life the keys to my car and taking a back seat. Come what may. Because we have the ability to drive, so why just ride? But, the truth is, sometimes life does take the wheel. It’s a greedy driver, with a need for speed, that wants to put it’s dirty sticky fingers on your wheel and turn that wheel on a whim. Take a different direction. It might speed everything up, or slow your life right down.
That job you drive yourself to, the one you got because you mapped out a career and took the right courses in college….what if you lost it? Not because you lost your way, refused to follow directions, or misplaced your keys, but because of cutbacks. Life took the keys. The wheel just turned in a different direction.
You lost someone. Someone you thought would always be there. You took them in the car with you – everywhere. Even when they weren’t with you, they always were because you carried them in your heart. Maybe, they died young and never wanted to leave you or this ride called life. Or maybe they are living, getting older by the day, and they just chose something, or someone else. They no longer wanted to ride with you. Car door slams SHUT. Turn left. Take the foot of the petal. Loss controls you. Maybe, you’ll find cruise control. At least you’d be moving. Motion must mean something. Moving slowly. And then, there they are, perpetually, in your review mirror. Husband. Father. Friend.
This is life. Driving. Riding. Steering. Stopping. Loading. Unloading. Getting Lost. Asking for Directions. A picture of the past in a mirror that is front of you. And, in front of the mirror – – the future, somewhere within the fog.
I have a map. A GPS, even, telling me when I’ve gone the wrong way, (“Proceed to the route.”) exactly where to turn (“In a quarter mile, turn right.”), and where the destination is (“Destination AHEAD!”). If, I’m really listening, instead of questioning the GPS, I hear things like, “Don’t say that.” “Slow down, and go talk to that person over there.” “That route won’t take you where you want to go.” “Time to move on.” My directions are clear, the destination I don’t doubt, but the road doesn’t always take me the quickest route. Sometimes it’s the long way round on a two lane mountain road with no guard rails. I look over the edge and gasp at the drop, all the while the driver behind me may be thinking, “what a stunning view.”
This is life. Slow speeds. Fast speeds. Country roads. City Streets. Red lights. Green lights. Yield signs.
I have my foot of the petal. I’m ready to turn. I’m learning to be grateful for the glances I get in my rear-view mirror. They are the girl that has made me this woman. I look ahead for signs and my heart hears the GPS. I take back the wheel when life takes a turn on me. I hand over the keys, because I don’t own this car, anyways.
I see cars differently, now. They are not just black BMW’s or maroon minivans. They are you. They are me. Riding along. Being carried in their cars. Trying to carry everything, everyone, while just trying to carry on. I can spot the ones on cruise control. The ones that have a tendency to keep glancing back. I wonder if they have lost their way? If they have any directions at all? If someone else put their sticky fingers on their wheel or if they even want to make a turn, at all? Maybe, they just need someone to ride with them, for awhile.
If that is you….I’m in the next car over. I’m waving. I’ll roll down my window and tell you not to feel bad about glancing back at your own girl in the rear-view mirror, because way back there, back then, she used to know the way. Your foot will find it’s way back to the petal, you’ll click the cruise control off, and you and I, both, will look off the edge of that two lane mountain road with no guard rails and exclaim “What a view!”