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.


bein good to me said...

What a great metaphor! I think mostly I'm a driver (strong-headed woman like my mom) but lately I've felt like a passenger--I'm realizing it's nice to get to witness life from another perspective, just like you mentioned.

Lyn said...

Well said! I think I have often been in the driver's seat and now in this stage of my life I would have to say that there are times when I want to be in my own car, going where I want to go, meeting my hubby at the next checkpoint. But it is true what you say in that with age has come a strength in letting go once in a while, and letting life unfold naturally, unforced. It has been interesting to watch your writing change as your journey has ... Happy New Year - and here is to POSSIBILITIES.