Cruising.

My first car was a 1988 Volvo. Lots of character, not a lot of bells and whistles. In some countries it could’ve been considered a military tank.

I was shamelessly jealous of friends with new Honda Civics or Ford Explorers and all the fancy features these vehicles boasted. Related: in high school, your self worth is defined by the STUPIDEST things.

Years later when I got my first new car, I was fascinated by all its modern awesomeness, and particularly floored by cruise control.

You push this button and the car drives itself?

What.

Ok so not really, but the whole notion of this functionality screamed luxury to me. It made things so easy. What isn’t appealing about coasting? Even the word is fun. Cooooaaaasssttinggg.

But I quickly realized the problem with cruise control — it was almost always impractical — at least for my lifestyle. There was rarely a situation where it made sense or was safe — there were too many obstacles and traffic always got in the way. I hardly ever used it, despite its early appeal, because it was impossible.

And on the rare occasions I did use it, I would completely zone out. Bad. You know you’ve done it. You wind up at a destination and have no idea how you got there.

I started thinking about this a few days ago because life has been hard lately. Not terrible-hard, but HARD.

Whenever I enter a challenging season, my natural tendency is to immediately panic and seek a way out…like dogs when they realize they’re en route to the vet. I feel like I’m failing when things are messy and misaligned, and am convinced that the world is ending and I’m a failure for various illogical reasons. I’ll start to equate happiness to easiness. Dumb.

I’m finally starting to get that things are rarely going to be easy. If ever. Maybe never! There’s a lot of hard stuff, and not always a lot of fun, but the whole mess of it weaves together to be your unique life. And that’s amazing.

There’s no cruise control option for life — and if there was — we’d zone out miss all the good stuff.

Instead of freaking out every time things derail from my maniacal vision of how life “should” be, I wish I was better at embracing hard times for what they are, letting myself feel and process without a self-imposed agenda.

Cruise control isn’t practical for cars or for life. If you switch on autopilot, you lose sight of the journey. Obstacles aren’t necessarily things to overcome and forget; they’re essential to our lives because they allow us to understand joy.

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3 thoughts on “Cruising.

  1. ah, jess. i’m taking this completely personally and as a total gift right now. HOLY CRAP. I stepped away from my computer (read: life partner) for three minutes…your post made me wonder if …”i can either call you on 1275 or sit under my desk” actually has a completely different meaning??

    I can either hide in the sanctity/shrubbery of my bedroom, or i can hang up, go out into the world, make a new choice and trust you’ll answer when i call. did we know this 17 years ago? did i call you on 1275? did we invent twitter?

    but seriously, i needed to read this right now. we’re in different corners of the same room, and this gave me instant perspective on the thing i’m working on that is a total gift, even though it feels like ______(future employers, I handle stress well!).

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