Five years ago, my husband and I bought a small camper (Le Que!) to pull behind our truck. We were excited to explore, to discover state parks around the country and to spend more time in nature. I loved the idea of cooking for ourselves (vegetarians can struggle in the Midwest), of making a home on wheels. I loved the thought of hiking and riding in beautiful new places, of going to sleep seeing the stars and waking up in the forest.
The very idea of driving this rig, however, terrified me. Driving just the truck pushed my edges and I did that as little as possible. The idea of driving both the truck AND the campe scared the bejeebies out of me.
So I got really good at riding in the passenger seat. I provided water and snacks and hand massages. I downloaded interesting podcasts. I programmed the GPS and read the maps. I was an excellent passenger.
Frank assured me that he liked driving and didn’t mind being the only one behind the wheel. The camper is actually smaller than his work trailer, so for him, it wasn’t difficult — even to back into tiny campsites and navigate city traffic.
But in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t a great idea for me not to be able to drive the rig. What if Frank got ill or injured? What if he was tired and we needed to cover more miles than he could go? What if he just wanted a break?
On our trip this summer, I thought about it a lot. I had long conversations about it in my head but was afraid to say anything out loud. Half way through the trip I mentioned it casually. We were leaving Itasca State Park in Minnesota, and I said that maybe-sometime-maybe-on-this-trip-maybe-next-summer I should try driving. Frank said, “How about right now?”
I immediately regretted saying anything. It was one thing to think of doing it sometime in the misty future. Another thing entirely to think about doing it now. But that’s what happened. Frank pulled over, gave me a couple of (incredibly helpful) things to think about, and I hoisted myself into the driver’s seat.
We were in rural Northern Minnesota so there was no traffic. There were hardly any towns. Hell, there were hardly any curves in the road. But I did it. For nearly two hours, I drove the rig.
At first I was tight as a wire, with eyes darting and hands gripping. But as I drove some every day, I got more relaxed, more aware, more confident. I can’t back the thing up to save my life. That’s something for another summer. But for now, I can drive the rig. As scary as it was at first, it’s one of the most empowering things I’ve done in a long time.
Who is driving your days?
Are you letting your spouse, your child, your work, your expectations, your parents, the news, your fear to drive your choices?
It can be great to sometimes be in the passenger seat, navigating, distributing snacks, providing entertainment and navigation.
And if that’s the only place you sit, if you are afraid to drive, if you are bullied out of driving, if you have a story that you can’t drive or don’t deserve to drive, it’s time to swing yourself up into the rig.
It’s time to sit in the driver’s seat.