My first boyfriend wrote me a poem for my sixteenth birthday that, paraphrased, went something like:
Child of Atlas, release the world from your shoulders. It will remain in place, remain in its eternal spin, without you holding it up.
My tendency to feel responsible for every being on the planet was so apparent early on that it inspired poetry in a teenage boy. At the time my parents were going through a divorce and somewhere along the line I got the message that the most important thing was to “keep it together.” So I made looking like I had it together a career. And I rocked it.
Cozy in the driver’s seat.
I’m the youngest member of my immediate family and yet I’m always the driver. I love to drive any chance I get. Being in the driver’s seat, literally and metaphorically, is where I’m cozily tucked into my comfort zone. I’m in control. I’m making it happen. The world is my oyster. It’s up to me. I’m in charge. The wild blue yonder sprawls out in front of me. I feel powerful. I feel like I have it together.
I left NYC on January 25th, said goodbye to most of what I own and to life as I have known it, and hit the road on The Freedom Tour on February 2nd. My vision was that I would drive myself around North America indefinitely in my little white Prius named Zoe.*
I had images of my hair blowing in the wind, my aviators shielding my eyes from the gorgeous desert sun, and a scarf billowing luxuriously from my neck. I thought I would be driving around having profound thoughts on life and freedom. I had this whole romantic notion of just how it would look with me at the helm, fabulously occupying the driver’s seat. And looking very much together as I drove.
The life we’ve planned.
There’s a Joseph Campbell quote that’s been echoing in my head of late:
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
I have indeed passed through seventeen states and put 4900 miles on my car in the past four weeks. But it hasn’t looked at all as I had planned. In fact, of those 4900 miles I’ve probably only personally driven 500 maximum. I have, in fact, spent the vast majority of The Freedom Tour in the passenger’s seat.
When I realized that I was going to need to get my car from Buffalo to Boulder by way of San Diego, I put out a somewhat random (yet divinely guided) text to someone I barely knew to see if he wanted to drive with me. Key word: with. He accepted the spontaneous invite with only two weeks notice before the departure date. We met up in Buffalo and instead of driving with me across the country, he drove me across the country. Yep, basically 4600 miles of passenger-seat-style surrender.
Handing over the keys.
In the past month every one of my control-freak, Filofax-toting, give-me-the-map-I-know-where-I’m-going buttons has been pushed. I’ve had at least a half a dozen really good freak-outs. I’ve tried desperately to hold onto the life that I had planned, this grand road trip where I would be controlling everything and having perfectly timed, well-planned and well-executed revelations on the state of my life and the state of the universe.
For weeks I have been wildly pushing up against what has actually been manifesting for me: someone who genuinely wanted to take care of me, opportunities I couldn’t have possibly foreseen, possibilities bursting forth at a mile a minute. The thing about pushing against anything is that it’s exhausting. It creates friction in the brain, the heart, and the soul.
And so I decided to surrender. I’ve let someone else drive. I’ve let go of needing to know where I’m going all the time. I’ve tripped, spilled, tumbled, and been a spaz. I’ve unraveled and gotten confused. I’ve allowed myself to be carried. I’ve allowed my baggage to be carried. I’ve let myself not have it together and, more importantly, I’ve let myself not look like I have it together either.
The now moment.
I have come to realize that I have no idea what my life is going to look like three months from now, let alone a year or five years from now. Screw the five-year plan. It turns out that my life is today and that the good stuff is happening in the now moment. I’m making a home in the unknown and letting someone else drive for a change. It’s freaking scary and it’s freaking beautiful.
So, to all of the women (and men) out there who do too much, hold too much and take on too much, my desire is for you to hear and accept the following plea. May it come from a lover, a friend, a travel companion, God, Goddess, the universe, your guardian angel, or anyone else who can take the wheel:
Slip into the passenger’s seat baby. Your chariot awaits you. Oh no, let me get that door for you. I’ve got your bag too. The seat heater is on and I’m driving. I’ve got the directions. I know where we’re going. You can just relax and look at the scenery. I’m taking you where you need to go. It’s my pleasure. Allow me to drive.
*Her name was originally Pearl but it’s been changed to Zoe which feels more appropriate for the chariot of a girl hitting the road indefinitely.
Any other control freaks out there? What does it feel like to let someone else drive, literally and/or metaphorically? Share a story. Share a thought. I’d love to hear from you.