It turned out to be a fitting book as we flew back to Maine. As soon as I set foot in my living room, I signed myself up for Driver's Ed with the Lane Driving Academy. I joined 24 teenagers and sat in a classroom with them, attempting to conceptualize the mysterious process of driving a car. Then, one day, I got in that car and for the first time in my life, I set out on the road with my patience-guru-driving-instructor DJ by my side.
I was expecting a 90-minute session in a parking lot. He told me to turn the key and head straight into traffic. I felt like bolting the moment he said that. I pointed out that although I look mature, I have actually only driven shopping carts before.
He didn't seem fazed and uttered calm instructions and I had a full on out-of-body experience as I moved into traffic and wondered who on Earth was actually driving this moving clunk of metal. I didn't tell DJ about this train of thought. Then, I thanked myself for studying meditation for eight years.
We turned onto a road out of the city and it was 6pm and the sun was setting throwing golden light over the electric green meadows of late summer Maine. The window was open and the scent of cut grass wafted in. I drove down an empty road with only cows as my audience, and held that wheel in my hands and felt this rush of adrenaline and wanted to drive all the way to California. Bruce Springsteen sang in my mind. The American dream!
It has been an utter shock to find that I actually enjoy driving.
This Monday I attempt my written exam, and if all goes according to plan, it's time to unleash my driving skills on my poor husband. Then it's a road trip to the redwoods of California. And I find that this driving metaphor has extended into my entire life.
I am teaching meditation classes and saying that we need to learn how to get behind the wheel of our own mind. I am flying down new roads and working on all manner of China/US art, culture and education projects.
I've come out of the dead-end road and found myself on a super highway. It's a little dizzying, but the plan is to embrace the speed, stay focused, keep a clear mind and enjoy the wind in my face. At last, I'm on the road.