Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Passengers and Drivers

"On the road of life there are passengers and there are drivers."  

I'm sure that was a car commercial once upon a time.  But it's true.  There are those that actively seek, crave even, the open road.  Always searching for the next best thing.   Then, there are those who don't mind being chauffeured around, are okay with others being at the helm, directing the ship.

Each seat comes with its own challenges and rewards.  Driving all the time is tiring.  Sometimes we drive too fast, exceeding the limit ~ for which we pay the price.  We get ahead of ourselves thinking we know exactly where we are going when in fact we do not.  So we take wrong exits and waste time trying to u-turn on side streets hoping they will get us back on the highway and en route to our desired location.  There are a lot of distractions in this seat.  We fiddle with the radio, watch for other drivers, listen for our cell phone to ring.  But ultimately our reward is that we are in control of our destination!

The passengers seat gives us time.  We can be thorough with the map, anticipate what may lie ahead. Direct the driver.  When a song comes on we don't like, there is the luxury of fiddling with the frequency without the worry of putting the car in the ditch.  We can talk and text to our heart's content.  If we get bored we can read a book or recline the seat and take a nap.  But, our ultimate punishment here is that we are not in control of our destination!

For a long time in my life I had an unexplored need to be in the driver's seat.  Had you asked me 10 years ago, I doubt I could have sincerely come up with a single positive about being a passenger!   But that is the advantage of age.  It mellows you.  For me, I want less to see the world through speed and the illusion of control and more through a long walk that ends with a really good fair trade coffee with a friend.

So think about this analogy as the new year approaches... are you a driver or a passenger?  Can you appreciate both?  Can you recognize the times you feel pigeoned into a particular role?  How do you handle that?  Does your heart beat with glee or does your chest constrict in anxiety?

There is no inherent evil in either role.  Balance dictates that we see the good in both.  Is your family dynamic such that you always drive while your significant other watches the sights go by?   Would it feel uncomfortable if your spouse took the helm while you read the map for a bit?  If so, this may be exactly what you need! 

How many ways outside of your car are these roles in play?  Are you making all the decisions?  Can you trust someone else enough to give up control?  Do you have the courage to step up or down while another takes your place?

Remember, we are all on the road of life together.  So drive with that in mind.   And watch for the signs that are not posted but appear larger than you would have first believed just looking through the read-view mirror.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Life is Good

When I started this school year it felt like it was going to crawl by at a snail's pace.  Somewhere about mid October the pace quickened and it hasn't let up since!  This past week was so busy that I have almost no recollection of it happening!  Now it's Saturday and I'm on my first official day of break!  Wow!

I generally find September to December the longest part of the school year.  We have several breaks that help to punctuate the time from January until June, plus the added benefit of lengthening days and the promise of summer.  This is the first year I can recall not feeling beat up by December!  Despite the darkness (sunrise yesterday was at 9:35 and sunset was at 3:55) I've remained incredibly upbeat and full of energy.  I've barely noticed the shortened days.  This year is in such contrast to last year but I guess that is the ying and yang of life.

Hard to believe that in six months I will be at the end of teaching for a bit and at the beginning of something new again.  I'm not sure if it is good or bad that I've not had much time to think about it.  Probably good!  All I know is that life is worth the journey no matter the form it takes.

Everyone will go on celebrating the old 
birthday, counting the years as usual
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.

from the poem Crossroads by Joyce Sutphen

Friday, December 17, 2010



The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon. 

The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.

I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are.

I will dress for the occasion, and 
my hair shall be whatever color I please.

Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road. 

The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet. 

There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.

The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always up.

Joyce Sutphen

I have the best friends!  Thanks to my girl T over at Love you.