WHITNEY CAIN, PHD

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driving metaphors

I wreck frequently.  I wrecked just the other day.  Knock wood, these aren’t catastrophic crashes, but friendly fender benders in well-trafficked malls and busy neighborhood intersections.  My targets are parked or moving at a snail’s pace.  It’s as if the ability to see them clearly is what messes me up.  When cars whiz by or turn when it’s not their right of way, I swerve or stop or reconnoiter like a Nascar driver. 

In fact, Nascar was formative in my driving.  My mother was our family’s primary caregiver.  Naturally, she could tire of this role and on these occasions demanded Daddy demonstrate some family engagement.  Once he met her challenge with season tickets to the Bristol Motor Speedway, proudly announcing our seats were so close to the track we’d get tire soot on our faces.  We did.

Besides the soot, I got a primer in speeding and a respect for men in zippered uniforms.  My not-yet brother-in-law was enlisted to teach me to drive and remediate my ideas about speediness.  He took me to a cemetery for practice on its windy roads.  I confused the gas and brake pedals and drove his hand-me-down Oldsmobile up a dogwood tree just down from a funeral.  I’m not sure if it’s to his credit or not that he still proposed to my sister.

I still struggle with speeding, but not with men in one-pieces.  Driving the speed limit and carefully commandeering a vehicle requires such effort, especially with so much else to do.  It’s a metaphor for many of my dilemmas.  I want the benefits of meditation, but my monkey mind wants to wander and ruminate. I want the offspring of a well-thought plan, but my patience packs up and I’d rather jump into the next thing.

Years ago, I got pulled over in my 1984 Volvo.  The officer asked if I knew why he almost rear-ended me.  “Were you driving too closely?”  I asked.  My car had no brake lights.  Alas, another metaphor.  Sometimes I have trouble stopping in clear, purposeful ways.

Maybe I’ll try driving instead of driving while multitasking.  Maybe I’ll practice coming to a purposeful, recognizable stop instead of tapping pause and moving on through.  My guess is life be smoother, more intentional, and richer.  Our insurance rates might drop, too.

Whitney Cain