It has become commonplace for people to run red lights, stop or swerve quickly, and otherwise drive erratically. When we are in a hurry to get places, we often become careless and even reckless in our driving. I hate pulling up to the scene of an accident and wondering whether the whole thing could have been prevented by a different practice. Also, it seems normal for people to have to make quick changes because they missed the merge or yield sign, did not see the construction zone, or some other indication of a need to alter their course. Again, I wonder whether these last-minute changes could have been avoided. Is there some practice we could implement to prevent this or minimize it? It is called driving down the road.
When I was learning to drive, I was told to “drive down the road.” I had no idea what this meant. I thought I was driving down the road. Then, my stepfather pointed off in the distance. He told me I should always be thinking about and noticing what is ahead of me. He told me if I would just try to notice the conditions ahead, it would give me time to plan, to prepare, and even avoid much of what is out there that could harm me or my car. So he pointed out to me the traffic lights in the distance, the large hole in the road, construction signs, and more. They were all still quite a way away. Yet I noticed something as I attended to what was down the road; it became easier to maneuver through what was coming.
I noticed over time I did not have to make quick adjustments, sudden lane changes, or erratic moves. As I watched ahead of me —well ahead of me—I was calmer and felt more assurance and confidence in where I was going. Driving became easier, less scary, and more relaxed.
As on the road, so in life. We need to take the long view. We need to look well ahead of our current place on the path and see what is in store for us. Many of life’s challenges can be met more readily if we are focused on what is ahead of us.
There are many missteps we would not make, many pitfalls we would avoid if we tried to maintain a view of what lies farther ahead of us. On many occasions, I find myself asking, “Where will this choice lead me?” Every so often, I can recognize a choice that may be good to make in the present, but that would not turn out well for my or others’ benefit in the long run —down the road.
Even more, when contemplating my life’s direction, I have found great benefit in asking, “What things am I doing right now, which, if continued, might cause me to be off course in ten years?” It is powerful to look ahead, farther down the road, and really examine what is there. Often, I have been able to see the unwise course current decisions or actions (and even inactions) have placed me on. This quick realization has allowed me more easily to change my trajectory and improve my path. I believe many hard experiences and challenges can be avoided by driving down the road. So take the long view and see what is down there. It may help more than you know.