A recurring theme from last night’s dreams really stuck with me after I woke this morning, all day long in fact. It’s the image of driving a vehicle from the back seat. Driving by itself is a pretty common theme in my dreams, taking long trips down quiet back roads, driving across the open plains, driving through a neighborhood at night, all kinds of driving. But this was new: I kept having trouble getting the car to do what I wanted, only to realize that I was trying to drive it from the wrong seat.
It sounds ridiculous. Can you imagine trying to drive a truck from the passenger seat? How about a car from the back seat, literally from behind the driver’s seat? I’m not talking about what we usually call “back-seat driving”, where a passenger is a bit too liberal with their advice to the real driver. I’m talking about trying to reach around the seat to operate the wheel and the pedals. Not only was I trying to drive from that insane position, but I had passengers in the car, and they were all expecting me to get to our destination. Sometimes they were expecting me to get them out of trouble.
This stuck out to me because I do tend to give up control of my life to outside forces. I don’t want to make decisions, especially little decisions or lots of them. Anything from choosing a restaurant (or what to order when I get there) to deciding which of seventeen different urgent chores I’m going to work on, to picking which child I’m going to spend some one-on-one time with, all of it has, at one point or another, been left to the whims of outside forces. Whether using dice to choose an item from a list or using somebody else’s household chore list, I’m not really shaping my life for myself when I do that.
Of course, in the dreams I never consciously chose to drive from the back seat. How ridiculous! Something must have forced me there, just like in real life I often feel like I am being forced out of control. Want a child? Have triplets! Feeling great? Have a stomach bug! Got an important therapy appointment? Here’s a retinal emergency with a child! Want to spend time with a friend? Here’s my kids, her kids, another medical emergency, embarrassment and shame, or any of a dozen other things to neatly cut me off.
Still, I get the feeling that I’m being drug along by life, rather than leaning forward and choosing my path. I spend my whole day reacting, getting from one requirement or responsibility to the next, thinking the whole time about how much I just want to check out, sit and knit, go on a road trip, play a game, go sing karaoke. If I were to use a running analogy, I’m leaning backward and running on my heels instead of leaning forward and running on the balls of my feet. If you do that while running, you end up tired, exhausted, slow, with injuries and pain.
Kind of like I tend to feel most of the time.
Maybe it’s time I started living more intentionally. Stop reacting to everything and start causing things myself.
All those responsibilities, though. The classes I promised to teach. The obligations I have to my own teachers that I never feel like I’ve fulfilled properly. The family members who all just want something real quick (or maybe not so quick), nobody realizing that one request an hour multiplied by seven take up every spare scrap of attention I have. I need to clean up the house, I have to help my children learn and grow, I need to make sure Kender is developing faster, I have to help bring more money in so the kids can spend it, I need to make more lists, I need to find another checklist…
No. Wait. Breathe deep.
It’s so easy to give in to that chaos, to let it all come inside until I’m drowning and just trying to keep my head above water.
But if I sink down into the water and look beneath the waves, I can see what’s ahead. Everything becomes quiet, and I can move wherever I need to go.
Like being in the driver’s seat again.