As my vision has improved, I’ve had friends say, “You’ll get to drive in no time.” I’m sorry to burst your bubble but as much of a change as I have experienced, my vision won’t improve that much. It has a long way to go before I can see a stop sign from several car lengths away. I’m okay with that; for the most part, I’m very content in my non-driver status.
Am I crazy? Driving a car is an inalienable right akin to life, liberty, and the pursuit of the American dream. Car ownership is a major life convenience bordering on necessity. Car keys represent power, control, and independence. Talk to any older person forced to give up their driver’s license or that sixteen year old ready to wrap their grimy mitts around that gear shift. Oh wait, do cars come equipped with gear shifts? Did I mention I’ve never driven before?
As a quiet bystander to the stories about driving escapades, I can tell you, there are days I’m glad I don’t drive.
I have never
- Lost my car keys.
- Locked myself out of my car before an important job interview.
- Backed into a utility pole.
- Failed the driver’s test.
- Needed to change a flat tire.
- Driven the wrong way on a one way street.
- Got stuck in a pit of mud on a back woods road (but my #1 sweetie has!).
- Had to worry whether Geico is 15% less than my current auto insurance or consider the option of no-fault insurance. After all, a car collision is never my fault unless I distract the driver.
Best of all,
I’ve never been tempted to talk a police officer out of a traffic ticket. Wait a minute. That sounds like fun!
Am I making light of the situation? Perhaps. I do have my down days where I wish I could drive. It would be nice not to have to depend on other people for the simplest of tasks like going to the grocery store for some bananas or slipping up to Dairy Queen for a secret root beer float. Some days, I have an overwhelming urge to escape my ordinary life and, like James T. Kirk from Star Trek, “see what’s out there.”
In those moments, I remind myself of this:
Not owning a car or a driver’s license can have its benefits.
Time-saver. My personal poll on Facebook revealed the number of hours people spend driving. It varied tremendously based on their season of life and where they lived, but I quickly got the idea. I have the gift of an extra four to twenty hours a week where I’m not wasting time behind a wheel. My literary agent thinks I’m such a hard worker; the truth is, I’ve got the time to write, knit, AND plays games on my tablet because I stay at home.
Money saver. My husband should be ecstatic. I save him more than 15% on overall car expenses. We own only one car and I’m not taking all those trips to the grocery store ten miles away. When we go to town, we combine errands and make each trip count. When he frets over the cost of my airline ticket to visit family in Arizona, I remind him that I’ve saved three times the cost of the airline ticket in one year because he’s the only driver in the family.
My adult daughter who works as a University instructor and who hasn’t driven until recently, was content with her modest salary. “It’s plenty,” she said. “Why would anyone want more than this?”
“You don’t make car payments or pay for car insurance,” I told her.
Slower pace: How do I manage? I walk. Walking is a good thing. Aside from the cardio-vascular workout, walking to the store makes me slow down and enjoy the sights: the birds flitting from tree to tree, the flowers on porches, and the clouds morphing into new shapes. When you drive, you go too fast to catch the details.
Companionship: “You’re so lucky,” an aunt told me. “You have all these fascinating stories of people you’ve been with because you have to ask others for rides. Me? I just get in my car and go. By myself.” She’s right. I always have to be with someone else in a car. I get a ring side seat on the stories in their lives.
It works the other way. I have a sentence from Carol Kent’s book, “Becoming a Woman of Influence” on my white board that reminds me of the importance of discipling along life’s way. It says, “Make every contact count.” Just think of all my extra connections with people because I have to ask for rides. And the driver is a captive audience!
Compassion and Inspiration: I understand the frustration of the elderly about relinquishing those car keys. I’ve had many talks with older people who seem relieved that SOMEONE understands. I’m able to share with them how to adapt and that surrendering that license is not the beginning of the end.
Dependence on God: Necessity is the mother of dependence on God. From the age of sixteen, transportation issues threw me at the feet of Jesus and I found Him faithful. I’ve learned to pray that God provide a way for me to get where I need to go. Once I wanted to go to a writer’s conference 300 miles away. I got there and back—four drivers and one Greyhound bus later. Every transfer was a step of faith and a proof that if God calls you, He will resource you.
What keeps you from doing all that you want to do?
Look at the benefits and the hidden blessings. Maybe you aren’t missing out on so much after all. Sometimes the having brings more grief than the wanting.
Relinquish your need to God. Give Him room to work. Ask Him to show you the benefits of not having what you want and how He has filled in the cracks of your need.
He might surprise you at the wisdom of His alternate plan. He’s very creative. He’ll provide for you in a way that will make you and those watching you shake your heads and say, “Only God!”