Let someone else drive, my husband says.
Literally and metaphorically.
I was going on a bus field trip with my 14-year-old son’s eighth grade class to visit colleges and I had no choice but to sit in the velour-covered seats of the luxury liner and watch the cloud formations out the wide windshield as we cruised west to Ann Arbor.
But I knew what he was getting at.
For once, let someone else drive. Enjoy not being in charge.
I am always the driver. The menu planner, the carpool director, the-shuttle-kids-here-and-there person.
I am the one organizing bedrooms, picking up clothes from the floor, wiping away the toothpaste residue on the electric toothbrush.
I fix problems, I listen to middle school melancholy and stay up late when my kids agonize over the latest angst-inducing worry of their burgeoning lives.
Not to mention that I run a successful PR company where my every day is focused on making others happy.
Let someone else drive.
I’ve taken to listening to podcasts on long drives for my biggest client, pulling In stories of transformation and inspiration on podcasts from my favorite Masterpiece shows or TED talks or This American Life. And every time I think I could write that story, if only I had the time.
If only I made the time.
The clouds look like feathery mountains.
The sun darkens and brightens in transitions.
Trees frame the highway lanes, budding future foliage in this lap of spring.
As a passenger, I don’t worry about speed or time, I just ride along carried without any effort on my part. It is a new feeling to let go.
I could write that story, tell that story, inspire others, if I weren’t always in the driver’s seat.
Storytelling happens when you can immerse in the moment, in your surroundings, in the scene. When you become part of something, experience it, taste it, rather than whizz past on your way to someplace else.
I write my best when I am away from everything I know.
When I go on vacation alone, or when I wander in the woods, or when the orange slant of sunrise cascades across the windowsill and I have loads of time before the day needs to start.
I write about the world when I am in it, not when I careen past it.
It is a conundrum, this organized busy get-things-done life.
I don’t know about you, but every day, I wake and check my calendar and find the colorful blocks of commitment and know what the day has in store for me.
Drop off kids.
Meeting at 9.
Pick up checks.
Meeting at 3.
Write a draft for a client in between.
Soccer practice at 6:30.
Cancel the dinner after that because I just can’t do everything.
Find time for friends? You must be joking.
I have little blocks for quick calls and checkins with important clients and staff meetings.
In the car, always in the car, I call my sister to say hello and catch up. I check in with my mother about my son’s play. I make the calls I just don’t have time for when sitting still.
Let someone else drive.
It means so much more than what you think.
And it is so hard to do.