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Driving and Living: The Not-so Odd Couple

WE can easily know a person by how he or she thinks. I think that’s pretty obvious considering that what we think of is usually expressed in our words and actions.

Now, this is also something. I heard that we could also know a person by checking how that person eats. Burps? Possibly.

But there is another way of knowing a person and it shocked the living daylights out of me while I was driving on the way home from Los Angeles to Long Beach – it seems that we could also know a person by the way he or she drives.

Driving is such an exhilarating experience. Despite our sometimes painful crashes, especially when we try riding the bicycle, roller skates, motorcycle and even the kick scooter – there’s nothing like driving once we have learned its tricks. Suddenly, it’s a no-brainer task. It’s like easily conquering Mt. Everest in a manner of speaking. We have become some sort of a Sir Edmund Hillary, so to speak.

For some of us, driving is not just a way to travel but a form of meditation wherein we feel the sweet kiss of the wind on our face. Coooool!

Sooner or later, we would be able to drive different vehicles, a car, SUV, truck etc… oh yes, the vehicles that move us point to point will vary but we would kinda remain the same person nonetheless. It’s the same thing with our body, it is changing just like how our consciousness changes but the “driver” in us remains the same. Far out, right?

Now, back to while I am driving home…my “while driving contemplation” really drove me to write this article and relate the “strange” similarities driving and living have in common.


Before we start moving the car out of the garage (especially on a long trip), it’s imperative to check the oil level, brake fluid, tire pressure and, of course, our fuel. Heck! What a trip pooper it would be when we suddenly run out of gas and stop out of nowhere, and gas station could be 50 miles away…or more. That’s doomsday man! By golly, at least we must know our car is working – I mean, working damn good.

I think it’s also the same thing with our body. Every time we face this frenzied pace of city life, we ought to have some nutritious food and exercise (the body’s “high octane fuel”) to hurdle all the tasks we’ve to do for the day. What’s the point of getting all our work done when we are all so pooped up at the end of it all. Pyrrhic victory is not for us, guys. If we are prepared, we could do everything right and still have some juice left to keep us sprightlier like in that toy rabbit ad that keeps on moving and moving while others behind it have become still as cold steel.

Our vehicle, our body.

This is very obvious, guys. A simple advice from all experts in the automotive/healing field – take care of your vehicle/body and it will definitely take care of you. Sounds prophetic? A big yes, of course. Change oil, lubricate moving parts, check, check and check…and replace, replace and replace worn out parts. (Gosh, hope we are like cars, where we could replace our parts. Don’t worry, you have seen the trend and advances in medicine; a lot of transplants going on…and in the field of cloning, well that somewhat gives us the goosebumps. Just stay cool, however. Many things are happening now in the field of science and medicine deemed so unbelievable a few decades ago.)

Hey guys, would you like the brain of Einstein transferred to your skull, Doc Frankie has perfected it this time (just kidding)? Shucks, where are we? Oh, yes, if you love your vehicle/body, give it the best – and all the rest – that it needs. It’s simply like building a house that will last for a long time. Would you consider using the cheapest lumber for your posts and girders?

Work and work for a few days non-stop – without sleep – and for sure we would collapse. We got to fill up our tank and water our “radiator.” (I also find water similar to gas fuel). We forget to drink the right amount of liquid many times. Water is very good for the body and like all those veggies and fruits loaded with vitamins, minerals and enzymes, our “carburetors” and “engines” are so eagerly yearning for water too. Once properly maintained, I say there will be no black soot on your “mufflers,” garantizado!

Be focused.

Stay focused, that’s the game, baby! Many things happen because drivers are not paying attention on the road. Results: disasters of mythic proportions. Some drivers are either emotionally busy on their cellphones, fidgeting something in the glove compartments or even eating. It’s so damn hard to fathom what others would be doing in their cars. (Sounds like your mom telling you this and that, right?) There are so many things drivers do while the vehicle is moving but driving. Incredible.

Yes, there are some experts on this field who can drive and do so many things at the same time without any untoward record whatsoever. We could do nothing but genuflect and praise them for their exceptional skills. Let us be honest, some of us are neither skillful nor good. We got to admit that or American Idol’s Simon Cowell would shame us before millions of televiewers worldwide. I don’t think you’ll love that?

Another thing, there are driver nuts who love forcing us out of our lane in the blink of an eye. They enjoy beaver-wavering despite the fact that there are no streams or rivers around to dump their branches or fallen sequoia trees. (Calm down!) These drivers lack manners. Stay cool, friend! Don’t raise hell or blow your top and destroy your day. Let them pass. Life is just like that.

When I started becoming a better driver – I mean really, very, very cool and courteous – I hardly experienced meeting those repulsive, atrocious (more adjectives please, it’s good for the system) people behind the steering wheel. Moreover, other drivers become very courteous to me. I noticed that every time I show my courtesy to them, it won’t be long when other drivers will also be cordial to me. Is this some kind of hogwash or baloney? Nope, kiddo! It’s just a pure application of the law of cause and effect. Be a good driver, a good person, and you will attract the vibration you exude, plain and simple.

But of course, sometimes, there are some exceptions. Possibly because we are not aware that we did something wrong…and now, presto! we feel the effects we don’t like. Trust me. I have experienced this soooo many, many times.

The law could be shaped.

Do you know that the law could be shaped according to what you want by following it. Aren’t that contradictory or oxymoronic? Nay! It’s like using the law of buoyancy to your advantage. Now, we’ve got submarines. Yellow is cute on them. Right?

Be flexible, detour.

One time, I was driving in the freeway and forgot to exit where I should be going. Instead of cursing, screaming on myself, I nonchalantly looked for the next exit and turned back. No big deal.

Despite our plans there are times things do not go our way, sometimes due to our own making, sometimes not. Mea culpa. My fault. Yes, but we don’t have to chastise ourselves. It’s just a matter of turning around and staying on course again. That’s practically what we should do when we “sin.”

There are many incidents where people escaped accidents because they were caught in traffic or got in late. Note how many lives were saved during the 9/11 disaster in the Twin Towers of New York just because they got late to work.

What we always think of as “negative” in our myopic viewpoint is not always as such. Sometimes our faults are bright spots or wholesome events in our lives, especially when compared to the larger perspective of life.

When someone blocks our path, slow down, brake, or shift lane (but first look around especially at the back). Remain undaunted guys and stay on course. No need to curse the driver in front of you. Make life simple despite its complexities. (Well, just like in the Tao Te Ching, life is full of paradoxes.) That is just life’s way of making it more exciting and kaleidoscopic in nature.

Follow the rules.

If there’s the drivers’ rules and code of conduct there’s also the Ten Commandments and the wise sayings of Buddha, Lao Tzu and the other sages (all proven theories, left-brainers).

There’s no better way than checking our Thomas Guide (this used to be my travel partner, yet still has that map book in my car…just in case). But now we can avail of Google Map or plot our destination by using our smartphone. It facilitates our journey a lot easier, cheaper…and lessens those unwanted white hairs, too.

Driving in steep road necessitates right gearing. If we change the driving rules, we will surely go buying new brake pads or clutch in such a short period. Worse, we could destroy our vehicle, ourselves or both. In the end, after so much exasperation, we learn life’s lessons albeit the hard way.

Go step on the gas pedal at 90 MPH (or above the posted speed limit) and by time we know it, Big Brother is behind our tail. If we want to race, we should go to Daytona. We should not be a hotfoot. We don’t need to be itchy on the gas pedal! We should rein ourselves.

Always put the seat belt on. It’s not for the lawmakers; it’s for our own sake.

Let others know where you are going or what you want to do by using your signal or emergency lights. One has got to communicate, to connect with others. It makes life easy for everyone, right? No man is an island.

It also pays to be grateful. If a driver slows down to give you way, it’s imperative to acknowledge that courtesy with a quick wave of your arm as a “thank you” gesture. (Don’t make it too long though, as you still need your hand on the steering wheel. Focus. Focus.) I learned this from other drivers whom I’ve given way. Now, I am doing the same thing. This simple gesture makes me feel good.

Beating the Red Light.

Hey, we cannot escape beating the red light for Big Brother has eyes everywhere – in the form of cameras. What will they (Big Brother and his ilk) think of next? The best offense is our defense – vice-versa or whatever. If our every move is right, if we follow the driving rules, then we have nothing to fear even though Big Brother’s eyes are following us like our own shadow.

Follow the Golden Rule.

If we don’t follow the Golden Rule, we won’t get gold either (just kidding). But definitely, what we don’t want others to do to us would be quite remote if we follow the rules of life. This is the reason why all around us are spiritual institutions. Sometimes, even smart alecks should be reminded somewhere, somehow. Unless we got the “Thomas Guide” in our soul, heart and mind, we need to learn from these opt-repeated and tested words “what we don’t want to be done to us, we should not do unto others.”

Be at the moment.

When we drive, we keep our focus on the road and, on and off, look at our side view mirrors.

Have you tried overtaking by just looking at your rear view mirror and forgot to look at that blind spot on your side window? Heck, it’s scary and shocking when the other driver gives us a long hoot and sometimes a dirty finger. They would even look at you for a long time. You don’t need to be a Jean Dixon to know what those peering Rasputin eyes mean.

I am inclined to believe those rear view mirrors are like looking at our past, an anchor point, to know where we are going; and the road in front of us, our future. In between, there we are, driving at the moment, in the here and now, aware of everything. It is always the exhilarating experience of driving and the journey that is important. The destination? Well, it’s the cherry on the pudding, just as yummy as the journey.

Dark moments.

How easy it is for us to turn on our car headlights when it gets dark.

We know we are heading on to some dark roads. Without our headlights, it’s so easy to bump, crash or become a tree ornament. Imagine driving in the boondocks, all zigzag roads, and you don’t have lights. It’s pretty scary, right? Yes, siree, unless you happen to own a pair of those night vision goggles you’ve seen in the movies worn by the military or SWAT teams.

We all have our darkest moments in life. I know it’s damn hard. I have experienced that too. But let us for a moment, put our “headlights” (or our wits) on. I mean, look at the brighter side of things. These “darkness” are in our lives for a right reason. If not, it won’t be with us.

If we look at these challenges as a blessing, it’s easy to move on to life, pretty much like wearing those night vision goggles. It might look strange on us, we will look like some sort of alien from Andromeda galaxy but it does look cool. Yep, we can stay on course despite the darkness looming around with goggles and flashlights on. Aren’t flashlights used for emergencies and our darkness or challenges emergencies? Interesting.

Yes, with all the intriguing and interesting similarities between driving and living, it’s not that hard to conclude that by the way a person drives, we could likely predict or tell what character that driver has. Or, we can put it this way, one’s life would most likely dictate the way he or she drives.

I wrote a booklet entitled “Love Thoughts.” On the cover, the tagline below says, “Changing our thoughts changes our life.” Probably, we could rephrase it this time by saying, “Changing our driving habits changes our life.” Or vice-versa.

In a way, driving and living are not different after all, they are actions that are inextricably linked with each other. In short, they are no strange bedfellows; they are as inseparable as body and mind or body/mind to be precise.

Hey, now, some of you will howl and say, “That’s bull! How come my husband takes care of our car sooo immaculately clean inside out but he stinks like a sock that has never seen the laundromat?”

Okay, simmer down, naggy wifey. Be patient. That’s a good start. Once he found love within himself – and others – everything’s gonna be alright.

Guys, if you want to make your life a lot better than it is now, be aware of your driving habits and how you treat your car or cars. You will stop paying those traffic violation tickets. You will stop making unnecessary trips and you will stop paying the expenses for unscheduled maintenance brought about by car neglect. Bet ya, you will have a hotsy-totsy life – plainly perfect, that is.

Let our new motor, I mean, motto, be: “Be an amazingly good driver and Be an amazingly good person.”

Vics Magsaysay, Ph.D.
Vics Magsaysay, Ph.D., is a Los Angeles-based writer, fine art nature photographer, painter, graphic designer, makata (Filipino poet) and holds a doctorate degree in clinical hypnotherapy.

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