Learning How To Drive

I don’t remember how I learned how to drive. I took driver’s education as an elective during high school. The only thing I remember about it is the fact that I was such a smart ass that the teacher kicked me out and was not going to let me take the class. This got my attention because then I was going to have to pay to take the class, and so I asked nicely to be allowed to take the class.

I’m sure I learned lots during his lectures. He had a chalkboard and he drew arrows, and I passed the written exam. It all worked out fine. Perhaps more than anything I realized that being a smart ass could cost me money. This does not mean I learned that lesson fully, and never made such a mistake again. I learned to recognize the error of my ways a little more quickly. But I still don’t recognize those things anywhere close to early enough.

If I had been really brilliant, I would have realized that there is a way that I am that is based on the collection of my personality quirks, and that there was a way that my life would turn out because of those quirks. Not just the quirk of being a smart ass–lots of people have that one–but also my fears, shyness, laziness, megalomania. All the bizarre combinations that childhood and adolescence deals you set you on a path. You can choose another path, a completely different path, but your weird combinations may make it a bumpy ride along the way, and may even snap the spring in the suspension so that you can’t go down that path any more without feeling every bump like a kick in your pants.

If I had been really brilliant, I would have thought about the various paths I could have followed, and considered the journey based on my personality quirks, and maybe chosen a different path, but also maybe worked on some of those quirks to lose the not-so-helpful ones and maybe acquire some that can be very helpful. I might have borrowed from some of the Type A personalities who seem able to achieve and succeed when a Type B may have long since said, “Why bother?”

I have met a couple of people that were that brilliant and that in touch with their own spiritual guides.  I am truly humbled by their ability to see themselves and approach life with their own needs and possibilities in mind.  I have also met a couple of people that found the correct path without any clue as to how they got there, but they sure enjoyed the ride. Of them I am simply baffled.

I am now a passenger as my son learns to drive. Here in Michigan, the rule is that youngsters must log 30 hours of driving in order to take the driving test and get a license. It’s very useful and a good thing, but nerve wracking to be that passenger. It’s not all that easy to be the driver, either.

Come to think of it, I should think of myself as the teacher and not the passenger. While telling him to check his mirrors and his blind spots, I should be telling him to pay attention to his secret desires for life, and to give them the light of day every once in a while. There may be a way to get there, but you’ll need to signal and you’ll need to stop at this corner, and the car on the right has the right of way.  You shouldn’t speed when following your true path, but you shouldn’t go too slowly, either.  If the road is clear, be thankful.  If it’s crowded or full of bumps, maybe you’re on the wrong path.

The reason I’m using and abusing this metaphor is because I was coaching my son as he drove my car the other day, and he hit a bump and the spring on the front axle broke. The entire repair for the front end was over $800.  I hope my son is more mindful of bumps in the road, but I doubt that he learned that lesson.  It was, after all, my car, and my money to fix it.

It took me a while to learn my lessons, and I abused my father’s cars more than once.  It’s kind of the circle of American life. But I don’t really want my life path to be a circle.  I want it to go some where.