In about a month, my oldest child will get her license to drive. We’ve been preparing over the last year for this major milestone with lots of hours behind the wheel. I’ve never been so grateful for the thousands of hours spent teaching, cueing, and guiding yoga classes. The ability to calmly direct actions and focus has never been so valuable (and life saving) off the mat.
Through our many lessons, we’ve covered the basics of driving, parking, and negotiating traffic. Many of the scenarios, lessons, and take aways we’ve covered go much further than just the rules of the road. These driving lessons have become a wonderful metaphor and lessons for life for my teenage kid who is evolving into a young adult.
You can only control you. Immersed in learning every legal rule of the road, it can be easy to get flustered or jostled by other drivers who choose not to follow the rules. Someone changing lanes without signaling, rolling through stop signs, or cutting in front of you in traffic, can all be regular occurrences on the road. You have no control over how others will behave. People will break the rules, they may even put you in harm’s way. You can choose to become upset and frustrated, or you can focus and turn that energy to how you choose to act and react. You can only control you.
Be kind. Some driving habits are established for communication and harmony on the road. But, consider them as small acts of kindness. Signal your turn, let the first person in the intersection go first, and yield for pedestrians. When in doubt, the unwritten rule is kindness and patience. Make an effort to be kind. Wave the other driver through, give a driver room to merge, and wait patiently (with a smile) for the mom to wrangle her young kids safely through the parking lot.
Change with conviction. Your path and journey will change over the course of your life. When a change comes, whether it is planned or unexpected, change lanes decisively. Maintain your speed or better yet, accelerate, but do not slow down or hesitate!
Be Present. The roadway can be a scary place, especially with your teenager at the wheel. In our culture of constant activity, rushing from place to place and sometimes aggression, being present is one of the best tools to keep you safe. Be completely immersed in your task at hand. With focus and without distraction, you’ll be able to respond to the sudden stop of traffic, or any other jarring events that come across your path. You may also find the journey is more enjoyable. Be present in all that is worth your energy. This includes driving, school work, friends, and any other pursuits in life.
Let the crazy swirl around you. Chaos and irrationality are just a part of life. You can choose to be swept up in the craziness of it all or you can breathe, soften you thoughts (and hands), stay calm, and let the crazy just swirl around you. If by chance you are carried away with the momentum, you can always step away and remove yourself. Try a few deep breaths, that’s usually a good start.
Good luck on the road and in life. I wish you safe and enjoyable travels.