No more at 28

When I was twenty-eight years old I took driving lessons. It was actually the first time in my life I experienced being behind the wheel of a vehicle. For some people, this might have been a magical moment, a transcendent empowering experience, but for me it was the incepction of a decision I would fully understand and fiercely take months later, on a pouring late morning, after coming back from my sucessful driving test at the DMV. Let us start at the beginning, shall we?

It is possible that where you live it is very important to have your own means of transport. I have lived in places with varying levels of access to public transport, but frankly, it would be a big lie if I told you that not having a driver’s license hold me back me in any sense. I never missed an opportunity in my life for not being a driver, nor did I have to stop any activity because I never owned a car.

Anyway, despite all this being very clear to me today, at the time I confess that I gave in to the old argument that driving a car is an indisputable proof of success, and learning how to drive it is a ritual towards maturity, a V.I.P. pass to the world of motorized grown-ups. A happy nation of drivers, free to go wherever they want. Naturally, the ecological and economic impacts of such, let us say, mindset, were never mentioned, but anyway, they were good arguments. Not realistic, not sustainable, but good, in a Hollywood-esque way.

So, I convinced myself that driving would be like described in the songs and enrolled in a driving school. What was I looking lor? First of all, a bit of approaval from the “normal people” (one of uthem, finally!), but I was also curious. The idyllic aura of freedom, the feeling of being able to get lost in the vastness of the roads and live many adventures, was it really true, as so many representations (novels, tunes, films) advertised?

Controlling the machinery of a vehicle is usually portrayed as a superpower and the incessant search for speed appears as a value per se in the history of humanity since the Modern Era. The idea of experiencing it myself seemed very compelling. When I thought about driving, what came to my mind were songs like: Across 110th StreetI (or any theme from the movie Jackie Brown) or BR-3. As you can see, I had a very, very wrong idea about driving.

You may find it funny, but the truth is that, the moment the DMV employee said I had passed the practical test, I thought: “That is all good and well, but this stuff is really not for me.” Now if you ask me, I do not regret the time, nor the investment in the classes at all. I see them the tools that allowed me to learn a very important lesson: never do things that do not make sense to you, just because “everyone says it has to be that way”.

I have followed that lesson to the letter ever since. Perhaps you have learned it already a long time ago, or maybe you are just starting your journey and my words do not make much sense to you yet. No matter where you stand in life right now, it is always a good idea to refresh useful knowledge.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

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