Are you a good driver down the roads and highways of life? I’m learning to be, and it continues to be a bumpy journey.
The most influential people in my life arrived into it within the last 15 years. Yes, that’s only half way into my life. I was lucky and determined enough to meet them at the positive waypoints that I had chosen on the new route map of my life.
My internal GPS carefully tried to understand where I was, and where I wanted to get to. With scrambled signals, it became a hit and miss process, as I frequently found myself lost and mislead. But I now know that I’m on my way. Looking back at the journey previous to that point, the long days and years were spent being lived in a very different reality.
The events of one evening 20 years ago changed my life forever. From that point onwards, it was accelerated learning for me, or nothing. I had to deal with change at an exponential rate that I’d never seen before. I had to find and switch on Survival Mode on the shattered dashboard of life.
My father broke down in the year where I was entering my final exams. The engine of his mind that provided all the power to our way of life was not so well-tuned after all, coming to a sudden halt without any warning. Our lives then came to an abrupt stop in a messy pile-up of financial and emotional ruin.
Yet, I held on to my own steering wheel, as tightly as I could. All the signs told me to escape, and get onto the path to heal and save myself. How I chose not to be personally broken still remains a mystery to me, as I passed my driving test of academic exams in the end. What I now realise, is that I was unknowingly heading down a new path that would test my life driving skills.
Now at 34, I realised that life intentionally starts you out in the garage, but you have the power within you to get into the driving seat, key in new coordinates, and ultimately change course. The past enabled me to realise that we are our own cartographers. We are the engineers of our own blueprints of ourselves.
I am not a blind driver anymore. And here is why.
- I learnt that we all have freedom, to think and be, and follow our own maps. I made headway in using freedom to enter new lanes, choosing to experience new and interesting stops along the way, all over the world. There were many times where I just stopped over too long in jobs, or realised that it was time to leave certain relationships. Time to brake, and take a different turn.
- I indeed have a rear-view mirror into the past, and I have made positive use of it. Everyone has a past, and we can look back to it. To some, it may be long, painful shadows that are always cast over them. I’ve learnt to harness the pain from those shadows and use it as a good force, to create something better.
- I saw that life is full of distractions that clutter the mind, sometimes they hit us straight on. I now create and accept less of these distractions, and pro-actively add positivity and well-being to the everyday journey. There is nothing worse than picking up negativity en-route. Dump anyone and anything if you’ve strayed into toxic territory by mistake. Drive through this part of life, and keep the windows locked. It’s just not worth it.
- When we feel fear or doubt about who and where we are, we can check into our back-view mirror to remember what you’re experienced previously and what should you be grateful for, and what opportunities you have had. Remember that you have been it, and lived it. Treasure those places you have been to, and the people you have met.
- I have control over this journey. And, when I choose to stop over and take a rest, I can do so. An overheated mind tends to self-implode, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no-one to help you get back on track.
- I have learnt to sit up, and pay attention to the emotional road-signs, so that I do not force myself into another pile-up. If there are flashing lights ahead or you need to pull over — just do it. Let yourself breathe before you accelerate again. Running on empty will stall your efforts.
- Now I am on my journey, I intend to keep going, with mental maintenance firmly in mind. Even if there’s thunder and rain approaching in the distance, being prepared is better than stopping. The amount of emotional fuel is going to be a lot, as you need yourself in the best condition possible to keep going, until you’ve got to where you want to be.
The true distance to the greater things in life, is usually the distance that takes the longest times to cover. Choose to be aware of the past, and use it to propel you to a better future.
I hope that I am on the way to passing the driving test of life, and only time will tell.