I like to drive. I think I always have. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 20 and took a driving course from a private teacher. I’ve driven ever since. I guess that means I have 41 years of driving experience. I think I’m getting pretty good at it by now. I’m a safe, defensive driver and have noticed that the older I get, the more attention I pay to drivers around me. I want to be safe. I have a stick shift and usually always end up with one. There is something satisfying about the extra umph and get-up-and-go that you get when handling a stick shift. I always wear my seat belt and always use my blinkers. It is amazing how many people swerve in and out of traffic without giving any indication of their intent. Too many people take driving and cars for granted. They feel they will always be safe, that nothing could happen to them. But just think…you are in a little metal box traveling down the highway at 60 miles an hour! How safe is that? And every time I see a man on a motorcycle in shorts with no helmet, I just cringe inside. Talk about taking your life in your own hands! Even though I enjoy driving, my physical condition causes me some fear depending on the weather. I can walk only a few steps with a walker. So, in bad weather, I would not be able to leave my car and go for help if something were to happen. For instance, if I got stuck in snow or slid on ice and crashed, I would be unable to help myself. That causes me to have a fear of helplessness and a fear of driving in bad weather that I can’t explain to anyone who doesn’t share my vulnerability. We all like to be able to do anything and everything for ourselves and feel in control of our own destinies. When you are even partly handicapped like I am, you learn how vulnerable and helpless you are without your “tools” that help you to function like every one else. It is an emotional disability as well, that does not show itself unless something happens. I have learned to live with it and don’t even think about it on most days. As long as I have my walker, my office chair that enables me to work, and my wheelchair for longer excursions out of the house, I am just fine. If something happens that affects one of those tools, the fear and the realization that you are handicapped comes rushing back. You realize you are NOT self-sufficient and have to depend on tools as well as other people to help you to function. No one who is able-bodied can fully understand how helpless you can feel. This post seems to have taken on a life of its own. I was talking about how much I enjoyed driving. Maybe the “moral of the story” is to try to empathize with others when you see someone different from yourself. Everyone has problems and obstacles to overcome in their everyday lives. Some are more visible than others. We just need to practice patience when dealing with others and pass out as many smiles during your day that you can. You never know how that small act might help someone deal with their day.
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