By Craig Funston
(This is an open letter to my distant relative, Maurice. You can read along, if you so choose.)
Maurice, old buddy, old pal, old friend of mine–how’s life? I heard via the grapevine that one of your kids (that would be Maurice Jr.) is getting his driver’s license. I have taken it upon myself to pass along a few bits of counsel from things that I have learned along life’s journey.
Most of these have come from driving for over forty years, some of it from living for sixty. You know, Maurice (and MoJo), that driving is a lot like life: What you learn in one you can apply to the other.
Think about the following:
1. Stay in your own lane. Whether there’s only one lane or three, stay where you are. Don’t mess with people’s heads by wandering here or weaving there. That throws off every driver around you. But if you must switch lanes, do it with all the courtesy you can muster.
That’s a good rule for life, too: Stay focused and committed to where you are. Don’t harass or bother other people. Don’t mess with their heads, hands, or hearts. If you must shift for reason, be a really courteous, well-mannered person while you’re at it.
2. Follow the rules of the road. That means all of them, not just some of them. Go the right speed; stop when you’re suppose to stop; be kind to other drivers. You can’t control that moron coming at you, driving that dumpy Dodge (or is that redundant?), with his music blaring his music or his high beam blinding. You can’t control his driving habits, just yours. And if we all did that, there would be very few problems on the road.
That’s a good rule for life, too: Do your part to keep your nose clean. Be nice but not too nice; bother with people but don’t bother them (a big difference). You can’t be responsible for other people’s problems, but you are for yours.
3. Don’t cut corners. You can take that both literally and figuratively. In other words, slow down when you come to a yellow light. Stop at a “stop” sign. Don’t dash off recklessly when you’re late. Keep off the sidewalks.
That’s a good rule for life, too: Do a full day’s work; eight hours means an honest eight hours. Tell the truth. Don’t cut corners in details, facts, and emotion. Don’t promise one thing but deliver something else. Be real and open in all relationships. Anything less is cutting corners.
4. Keep your vehicle well maintained. If you’re as useless as I am when it comes to mechanics, get someone else to do it. There’s no harm in not knowing, but there is plenty of harm in not doing. A regular oil change and tire maintenance, for example, seems so trivial, yet it’s so crucial to the longevity of the car.
That’s a good rule for life, too: Regular rest, good eating habits, productive hobbies, no vices are what some wag like me would call “regular tune-ups.” Whether it’s a car, relationship, or a body, ongoing maintenance is essential
5. When it comes to driving, just drive. That may garner a “duh?” response from a certain element of people, so let me explain. People are too often texting and talking on their phone, doing their make-up, shaving, or even eating breakfast. The Lord knows what else they might be doing.
(Question: Does fast food mean eating a takeout while breaking the speed limit? Just wondering.)
That’s a good rule for life, too: There is some (but very little) merit with being clever at multitasking. For all the good that phoning, dictating, composing, and administering at the same time accomplishes (or cooking, baking, cleaning, sewing, or whatever), is it really necessary?
Too many irons in the fire means too many at the same time. There is nothing wrong with initiative and drive, a lifestyle that’s active and productive. But if those add up to losing focus, ie., not giving any one project one’s undivided attention, some things should go.
The simple pleasure of driving from Point A to Point B, enjoying the sights and sounds along the way is a great way to travel. Likewise, enjoying life one day at a time, cherishing the relationships and the experiences on a daily basis should be the main focus.
So, Mo and Little Mo, I trust these lessons are a help to you both. Maurice, you’re training him every day, whether it’s driving or living. And Little Mo, learn these lessons quickly and early: They’ll stand you in good stead for the many miles to come.
Oh, one last tidbit, Mo: Make sure MoJo’s first and forever purchase is a Ford. Nothing “runs like a Ford.”