I don’t like driving. But I value the many lessons that driving has taught me. Here are seven. Maybe you can relate with a few of them.
1. Remember your ultimate destination
Roads help you remember the importance of keeping your goals in mind. Before Google Maps, I always checked a printed map before setting off towards a certain destination. I would vaguely remember the lines I had to follow. I set off driving down a road. After a while, I realized I wasn’t getting closer to my destination. I consulted the printed map again – and realized the first road was meant to lead me to another road that would take me to my final destination. I had gotten lost because I forgot that the first road was just the first step in a few steps to get there. Isn’t it like that often in life? We are heading somewhere, but sometimes we get into the system of the current situation. For example, you might start a service project and you get into it but forget why you started it. If you forget why you are on that road, you might stay on that road, even though that road was meant to get you to a different destination.
2. Road rage
There is always that one person that is speeding and swerving between lanes. Yet, when we get to the red light, I am lined up next to the angry speeder. And I laugh at him. All the road rage only resulted in a net negative. He’s angry and emotionally riled up, and passing everyone, but for what? A two-second gain got him to the same place at the same red light. What is the point of rage, and becoming emotional? Now when I’m on the road, I practice empathy. A slow person is a grandma or a desperate mom who doesn’t know where she is going, who needs some mercy. Or it’s a lost tourist who needs to turn and it doesn’t help to have people honking at him. Road rage doesn’t do me any good, it doesn’t do anyone around me any good, and I gain nothing.
3. Pressure on the road
I’m a slow driver. When I am at the top of the hill, I am sweating, thinking that the person behind me wants me to go faster. In that moment, I was fixated on the thought of the person behind me and almost turned off my awareness of the road in front of me. The road is a good place to practice not to respond to others’ emotions, and to practice keeping your cool, your peace, and your confidence in your destination. It is a good place to train. I have to drive so I am able to safely get where I need to go.
4. Taking turns
I’m in the turning lane. I want to turn. I turn on my turn signal. It’s a big intersection. But there is one car in front of me. I want to turn, I can see the turn, but as long as there is a car in front of me, I can’t turn. If there is something in front of me – if I don’t get rid of that thing blocking me, I can’t go anywhere. If you want to get to happiness, but there is something you need to overcome – you won’t get there. As long as there is a car in front of me and if my path is not clear, I can’t move. You have to work through your blockages to get there.
See all the cars over there? It’s night and I’m wondering how to get through to the exit. But follow the lines, stay in your lane. Sometimes the goal seems daunting, and you have no idea how will you make it. Yet, you stay on course. You don’t stop. Then – somehow – you find yourself there. Life is a process. In the process of life, you are growing. That growth gets you “there.”
When you are driving a car, you have to see the road and where you are going, but you have to know the state of your car. The dashboard will tell you how fast you are going and how much gas you have left. If you are only looking at the dashboard, you will crash. But if you are only looking beyond the windshield and at your destination, you could run out of gas… We need balance to safely get to our destination. We need to constantly check where we are. Do we have enough spiritual food? If we only look towards the destination, we won’t get there because we might break down or run out of gas.
7. The car is just a vehicle
What if you are sleepy? What if you don’t know how to drive? What if you don’t know your destination? You are the driver. You can go through life blaming other things, you can go through life always trying to find reasons why this tool didn’t work, but in the end, the most important thing to invest in and cultivate is you, the one who is going to lead God’s providence.
Today, I have come to love driving as a tool that helps me settle my mind. I drive to pray and clear my mind.