Driving with the brakes on

Several years ago, a group of my friends and I took our kids camping for the weekend.  At one point we decided someone needed to go into town to get something important we were missing.  I can’t remember exactly what it was; probably marshmallows or some other equally critical camping supply.  Because of the way the site was set up and our cars were parked, we sent my best friend’s husband in my car to get the goods.  Forty minutes later he returned, with blue smoke billowing out from the back tires of my family sedan.
He’d driven the whole way to the store and back with my emergency brake on.  This is a man who, at the time, had been highly successful in his career as sales manager for a luxury car dealership.  Once the smoke cleared and the smell of burnt rubber lifted from the air, we had a good laugh at the fact that he just assumed that my (distinctly non-luxury) vehicle was a bit of a tougher ride than what he was used to driving.

That story, however, serves as a great analogy for how we sometimes live our lives.  We’ve got somewhere important we want to go or a goal in mind of what we want to accomplish on this “road”, yet even when we get in the car and drive (aka: take steps to get where we want to go and to reach that goal), we sometimes unknowingly make the journey so much more difficult and unpleasant for ourselves by driving with our brakes on.  We’ve got old habits, old fears and old beliefs about ourselves and about how the world works, and those old beliefs take the wheel and direct us like we’re on cruise control in ways that often no longer serve us.  We make assumptions, usually unconscious that we’re even making assumptions at all, that hinder the flow of our journey and make the road there so much tougher to travel.  Hesitations from previous hurts, and emotional injuries that we haven’t yet healed properly, all influence our decisions in each moment and hold us back from that optimal driving experience.

Sure we can ignore the fact that the emergency brake is on, force the pedal to the metal regardless of the nagging sense that something’s not quite right, and we’ll still get where we’re going…eventually.  But the trip will be that much more difficult, it will take that much longer and we’ll create so much unnecessary wear and tear on the car by doing it that way.

Perhaps life training is like driver training.  Keeping your car (like your self: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) tuned up and well-maintained is key to a safe voyage, both for you and for the other drivers on the road (be that the asphalt road, or the “road of life”).  Every time you get in your vehicle, it’s worth a quick check of the gas tank, the signal lights, the control panel and the air in the tires before you turn on the ignition and set out on your journey.  And when things need repair or maintenance, or when you find old parts (aka beliefs and habits) that need to be replaced because they aren’t working like they ought to, you owe it to yourself and to the others that share this road with you to take the time and make the effort to replace them.

And while you’re at it, pick up a great new CD to bop around to while you’re crusing to your destination.  Because if you’re going to travel the road, you might as well do what you can to make the journey safe, smooth and FUN for everyone!

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