I bring along beautiful music to distract, soothe and calm me. I even bring along ideas in my head to mull over – and to distract me. One of the oldest tricks I have up there in my attic to help distract me during particularly difficult times – like driving in traffic for long distances – is to mentally redecorate an entire house. I imagine the inside of a house I’ve recently seen, or sometimes I just start right from scratch and build a whole new one, and then I go from top to bottom, wall to wall and completely redecorate it. My mind gets totally immersed in tearing down walls, putting up paint and panels, crown moldings and fixtures – and then completely furnishes the house with furniture and even knick-knacks (depending on how many hours we’re on the road). There’s no limit whatsoever…it has amazed me over the years what my imagination has been able to conjure up for these houses! (And oh, wouldn’t I love to actually live in one of my completed houses for even one day, because they ARE magnificent.)
See how that old trick works? I can become so completely absorbed in that task that all else is a blur for long periods of time.
Which is exactly what I need when we drive for long distances.
Traffic terrifies me.
The moment we get into a car, no matter where we are or where we’re going, my gut tightens into a zillion knots, my heart starts to palpitate, my entire body becomes tense and my brain starts imagining all the terrible (oft-times quite gory) things that could happen now. I’ve tried EVERYTHING I know of to overcome this terror. For beginners, I refuse to allow it to keep me from going anywhere (although my panic attacks are so severe on major highways that I can only drive myself within our local area, hubby has to drive everywhere else). I’ve at least managed to swallow down enough of that panic to actually get into the car, buckle myself in and just go. And unfortunately, my “backseat driver” idiosyncrasies come with me, rising up in my throat like a tidal wave, and try as I might, I just can’t always keep them INSIDE my throat. “Watch for that pedestrian!” “Are you sure you’re driving in the middle of the lane? It feels like we’re riding the yellow line.” Are you sure you’re going the speed limit, it feels a little too fast for me.”
Poor hubby. He rarely ever comments now. He used to. I don’t blame him. But like I told him, many times: “Well, I just want to live…it took me so long to find my life, I don’t want to lose it now in a stupid car accident.” He understands, and he generously moves the car over just a wee bit, and slows down just a wee bit (my apologies to all those impatient drivers behind us) and he gives the pedestrians a wide berth.
I do play fair. For the long trips, I bring lots of good music to distract me, and lots of imaginary houses to redecorate. It’s never enough. But it keeps my terror at bay for long stretches of time.
Yesterday, driving to Montreal, I tried to analyze this terror. I had to bring in my faith, because that’s the part that baffles me. I believe that we don’t die before our time, before our purpose on life is fulfilled. With all of the recent losses in my life, including my brother dying at 42 years of age (too young), and so many other tragedies we’re continually witnessing around the globe, I’ve had to really wrestle with this whole notion of purpose, Master Plan, time and how all of these connect to death…especially seemingly premature death. And although there are still so many unanswered – perhaps unanswerable – questions, I’ve chosen to believe that there is a Master Plan, that we’ve all been given the gift of life for a certain stretch of time here on earth and that our lives – and for some, even our deaths – have a vital and unique purpose. For most of us, I suspect that a full vision of that purpose may well be beyond our grasp while we’re here. We might be allowed glimpses here and there, perhaps through the eyes of our passions and the fruits of our labour. But I think that the root of our purpose here on earth is largely hidden, perhaps because God knows that if some of us knew what it was, we might be tempted to finish it quickly so we could “go Home”, so to speak. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but from an eschatological spiritual perspective. As much as we might – and should – profess to love life here on earth, for some of us, the little glimpses we’re allowed of Paradise (eternity with Jesus Himself) enraptures us and makes it difficult to keep our feet solidly planted on the ground. So imagine if we knew that if we only finished our purpose here, we could then go and enter into that Kingdom sooner.
Not so fast, apparently. That’s quite another topic, I suppose. I love meandering through that whole realm of eschatological implications and perspectives, but I only mention it here because it’s part of the tangled terror that I’m trying to tame – if I truly believe that I have a purpose here on earth, and that I’m presumably “safe” until that purpose is fulfilled, then why am I so terrified of dying in a car accident? Believing what I believe, I should trust that whatever happens is part of that purpose unfolding. I mean, if I believe that we don’t die before our rightful time, then that belief should translate into trust, shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t I trust (especially when I pray for safe travels, according to His will for my/our lives) that it will all be okay and that everything (including me in this car in the midst of this traffic) is in His hands? That’s what I profess to believe. That’s what I WANT to believe. And yet the terror is still very real and very uncomfortable, and probably not very healthy for my body.
It’s a baffling mystery to me why I can’t just relax and enjoy the ride. But hey, I’ve built some very exquisite houses over the years…if I could sell even just one of those houses, I’d be rich enough to be able to buy myself an armored car to take me everywhere…I wonder how far that would take me before I’d have to start building another house.
Sigh. Trust would be so much simpler if I could just get the hang of it.
Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2012. All rights reserved.