Like many teenagers, I took driver’s ed in high school.
By Tera Landers
Our instructor was the same man who taught us history and civics. Most days of the week, he was a normal teacher, standing in front of the classroom. But twice a week, he turned into one brave soul, letting us teens drive him around town, barking orders in our ears as we carefully steered the car through four-way stops and left-hand turns.
A few safe driving pointers stuck with me: Keep your hands at 10 and 2. Don’t speed up in a curve. And by all means — stay awake!
Those three tips are applicable to life, not just driving:
- Always make sure your hands are where they need to be.
- When your world starts swaying, slow down, breathe, and keep a steady pace.
- Keep your head up and pay attention to what is happening around you.
A while ago, I attended a day-long workshop created by the Pachamama Alliance, called “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream.” The focus was on the environment and what each of us can do to help heal our world. That day called us forward into a sacred activism.
At the end of the workshop, a bracelet woven with brightly-colored threads was given to each participant. It wasn’t just a sweet parting gift. It came with a purpose: a tangible reminder of the truths we awakened to that day, and for the personal commitments we made to do our part to bring wholeness to the earth.
Reminders like this bracelet are important. Our standard United States culture lures us into a trance. We already know that much of what we need — or think we need — to survive damages the planet. Yet we continue on a destructive path. Almost mindlessly, we drive cars, jet off to national conferences, enjoy the convenience and low cost of cheaply made, easily replaceable appliances and home goods. We live in a culture that has throwaway resources, species, and people.
Annie Dillard wrote: “the way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives.” When I look over each day last week, I wonder — did I live the life that wants to live in me? Staying grounded takes practice and intent, and it’s so easy to lose focus.
My guess is you are a lot like me. You start each day with good intentions. You try to do your best to do your part. Yet sometimes we fall asleep at the wheel. We lose our own spiritual alertness. We get caught up in quenching our thirst for MORE — the latest cool techie gadget, more clothes, more stuff in an attempt to fill up our aching souls. Our hands are all over the steering wheel as we work so hard trying to provide food, clothing, shelter for ourselves and our families.
And we don’t see what the earth is trying to tell us. It’s hurting. It tries to get our attention. But we look away, too busy trying to fill our own cups.
We need something to help us focus. A bracelet. A mantra. A prayer. It looks different for everyone, but in order to be effective, it must be consistent and have the same force of energy that my driver’s ed teacher exuded as he shepherded us young drivers through the city streets.
We can change. We can heal the world. It will take some hard work. Whatever you do, keep your hands at 10 and 2, breathe, and stay awake at the wheel.
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