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Metaphors that Lie in Wait

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I just finished a driver's ed course to "make up" for a speeding ticket. I earned the ticket, fair and square. I was driving on one of those streets that, dog gone it, just feels like a 40 mph street instead of a 30 mph street. I'm not glad I got the ticket, but I am glad I took the course-- for reasons both practical and metaphorical.

In 1984, an 18-wheeler truck rear-ended my 2-door car while I was stopped at a red light. Despite wearing a seat belt, my body was thrown far-forward, and when it came flying back into the seat, my body's impact broke the car's seat. I was fortunate. The trucker was without his cargo that day. Otherwise, I might not have survived the accident. Even so, the injuries I did sustain changed my life forever. The tennis matches I planned to play with my son never happened, and I would never again leap gracefully in a ballet class. The experience taught me a lot about how quickly life can change, and how much change one traffic accident can bring about.

The driver's ed course was a good way to restore my appreciation of safety and help me get real and stay real about speed limits. They are there for a reason. And, yes, they apply to me--not only to that other driver over there. I needed to re-learn and re-remember the course's lessons. The "added value" I received from it, though, came in surprise metaphors. I love finding these things in unexpected places.

While reading about directional control, I realized that I need to apply this to my life and my calendar, as well as to my automobile. A course video demonstrated how "collision traps" are created in traffic. This led me to think about "collision traps" I've created in my own life. It might be more apt to call them "conflict traps," situations I found myself in because I had acted on assumptions instead of facts, just as I assume a driver whose car's right blinker is flashing will turn right--even when I can tell the car is going too fast to make a right turn. 

Scan ahead. Look ahead a "space" of 12 seconds, the man with the exquisite bass voice in the course video advises. And look around...not just ahead. It's easy for me to focus only on where I need to go and lose sight of the world around me when I'm driving. The car in front of me is not an obstacle, but part of an interactive whole. The red light is not beaming to frustrate, but to protect. Context matters. Putting oneself in context matters. Making oneself the context leads to accidents.

The course also discussed time and space management. The one comes with the other, yet we  continually separate the two in books and seminars. Do this with your time. Do that with your space. It's artificial at best, wrong at worst. The two coexist, and we manage them  simultaneously, whether we remain conscious of the fact or not. This insight puts a different spin on my attempts to organize my space--something I usually do without considering time as a function within that space. And it does the same for my efforts to organize my schedule.

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Speaking of schedules, perhaps the meatiest metaphor in the course was this: There is no reason to speed to try to achieve the unattainable goal of making up time

Thanks, Officer, for stopping me in my rush to arrive and making me learn, once again, I can drive without being driven.


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