My journey began the day after I was born. I was strapped into the protective car seat in the back, bundled and feeling protected. My vantage point was the cute little toys fastened around me all the while feeling safe, loved and fussed over by my parents.
As the years pass by, I graduate to a booster seat in the backseat of the car where I can easily stare outside at the passing world with joy, wonder, and innocence. I recall being enthralled by the migration patterns of rain drops. I imagined the drops racing each other and if they made it off the window, they were free to join the clouds. Did you ever notice how pretty clouds look or that they look like funny animals? Sometimes, I named them as I did with all my imaginary playmates.
My teenage years in the car, I observe my parents are now listening to the radio, and not as attentive to me. They are often yelling at other people in cars or each other. What once brought them joy, I see makes them angry a lot. So, I have to find ways to amuse myself on this magical ride. I see a movie, mall and ice cream – please stop I cry. But, they don’t have time to stop.
I am old enough to take the driver’s seat. My parents are hesitant, but I have been in cars my whole life – how hard can it be? My grandfather takes me aside and says, “I have been driving a taxi in Manhattan for 40 years, just remember everyone on the road is trying to kill you!” I look at him in sheer horror, was driving and life really that scary? He smiled knowingly sharing his version of defensive driving and maybe living. But, driving is supposed to be fun – I can stop and finally go where I want.
That’s when it all changed for me. The car ride was no longer about fun, but about paying the car insurance or the gas to fill up the tank while I was in college. The bills kept coming and the car was just a means to an end.
I found myself stressed and rushing all the time. I was not looking for joy or raindrops racing, but the idiot killer driver who just cut me off as Grandpa warned. The car takes me to responsibility and the rain only means delays and traffic now.
It’s my turn to place my child in the backseat for the first time. The car is carrying my most precious person. Is the car seat in correctly, is she comfortable and bundled up safely? My mind is racing only on her safety, and I only want to get her home where I can tuck her in. I recall how my parents shouted if I unstrapped myself or distracted them while they drove. I finally understand them. They weren’t being mean – they were just scared.
I’m aging gracefully now and life is slowing down. The world is moving faster passing cars. I find that I can’t always keep up. I can’t see as well at night anymore and my kids are afraid I might not react as quickly. I spent my entire life quickly in this car.
I think it’s time to take the passenger seat.
It’s hard not having all the control, and I’m often slamming my foot to brake as my grown child drives me. I see a store I love and ask if we can stop? No, they say we don’t have the time. I shake my head in dismay – what’s the rush? I feel that the car is now a place of frustration and loss of identity. Wait, my grandchild is in the back seat. She is restless and a bit bored.
Then, I remember the raindrops.
We watch the raindrops together and I smile. My old loyal friends have never left me. I lost sight of them driving to responsibility and things which at the this point of my journey, don’t seem very important. Raindrops are forgiving and they soon restore my wonder with the innocence of my grandchild’s laughter.
The ride didn’t change – I did.
Take the time to enjoy your ride with joy and wonder. Remember the magic in your life and find a way to regain it.
Cherish the ride!