I think I got my driver’s license the same minute I turned 16. I had already been driving everything anyone would let me get behind the wheel of but even so getting my license to drive on the road legally was and still is a cherished, thrilling privilege. It represents a powerful freedom for me and one I protect. To be able to drive means I have the power to choose where and go when the spirit moves me. As I’ve watched each of my kids get their drivers licenses I saw the same independence and autonomy instantly begin to flourish in them. Within moments of getting their permits each of them were transformed with an evident awareness of their newly expanded power and personal authority. Learning to manage that power and authority of course came next but that’s where we all face our challenges. While personal examination, growth and development are relatively new concepts in our culture, drivers have used cars for decades to access and play out their personal dramas and perspectives albeit unconsciously at times but accurately nonetheless.
From over 30 years of having them, repairing them, and driving them, I have come to regard cars and all that they entail as very effective workable metaphors for our lives. Consider your car to be the vehicle of your expression and the way you operate your car to be the way you navigate through and manage your life . The idea is that your car, as an extension of you, shows the world what you either think of yourself or what you want the the world to believe you think of yourself as you travel through life. As the vehicle of your expression it reflects to you and shows others your sense of self power. Many people use their car to create an illusion of the personality they want to be understood as. By understanding what our car, maintenance issues and personal driving habits are we can come to understand a lot of how we function in the world and why. Often times just by using this metaphor we are able to understand things that we wouldn’t otherwise realize.
To work with this metaphor you actually have to see yourself as the one in control of the car. Ultimately the one at the wheel steers the car. The driver is the one in power. If it isn’t you then you are willing to sit and wait patiently until ‘they’ – whom ever they are – decide what’s best for them and their charges. You can grumble and complain and sit there with your arms fold stubbornly across your chest oozing your displeasure – but unless you learn to take the wheel in your own hands you are left staring out the passenger window! Whole separate issue!
The power to change your life rests on the acceptance of one simple fact: you must assume full responsibility for the life you lead. If you don’t accept responsibility for the life you have, and instead choose to believe that someone or something else determines your fate, then you will never feel you have the right to change it and thus you become destined to keep repeating the same drama. The power to change the course will remain with the one you assign the power to make the decisions. Believe this, if you don’t make your choices for yourself someone else will. If you don’t stand up for what you want you will have to go along. And if you don’t speak up someone will speak for you. If you don’t choose to get behind the wheel you will have to sit somewhere else and if you’re not driving, you’re hitching a ride.
It’s OK to just go along to get along as they say, as long as it’s what you want to be doing. And of course, there are times when we simply don’t want to be driving and are perfectly content being the passenger. There are times in fact, when it is essential to surrender to the plans of others and to learn how to be peacefully acquiescent and quiet in the passenger seat. Sometimes we need to learn how to be an effective co-pilot. Just don’t go along and then constantly complain that it’s against your will. Make your peace with the decision before you live it. Can you sit quietly as a passenger, or are you a back seat driver always coaching from the side lines? Harassing the driver but never taking control yourself.
Good driving skills demand that we become good defensive drivers, on the look out at all times with a proactive approach. We must learn to look ahead, be prepared to take evasive action and hopefully be able to avoid possible problems. All to often however, people drive full force into a traffic jam, head on into oncoming traffic and fall asleep at the wheel. They drive too fast for the conditions, they ignore the challenges of their fellow drivers, and they recklessly bully and endanger others. So ask yourself: are you stuck? Are you on an imminent collision course with another driver? Are you driving a bumper car, steering like crazy, being jostled about and going nowhere? Do you run into road blocks, detours, or other obstacles that prohibit you from reaching your destination? Are you disrespectful of others rights and opinions? Are you being a bully? Are you asleep at the wheel with your eyes wide open? Is someone else always at fault?
Every vehicle needs consistent and regular maintenance. Our cars need oil, water, fuel, air, etc., just like us.
So…What do you drive? What shape is it in? What service issues is it plagued with? Each issue uncannily reflects a condition that is evident in your own physical body. For example is your car overheating – how’s your personal rage, are you hydrated? Are you constantly running out of gas, or do you have a fuel leak – what about your own ‘fuel’ requirements, what are you eating? Does your food intake support your energy requirements? Are you putting up with broken wipers – why are you comfortable not seeing things clearly? Etc.
Review your crazy car stories; accidents, adventures, calamities, and near misses. What do the stories have in common? Are there any recurring themes or issues with your cars? How do you relate to your car, how do you relate to yourself? To others? What is your dream car like? This is an interesting relationship worth exploring as a metaphor for your own life.