Back seat driver

Ilkley Imbolc 001 (3)

The cyclist sailed straight off of the pavement and onto the road. Thankfully, I’d seen him look over his shoulder and was already braking, otherwise it could have been messy. I drive a fair bit and have, over the years, learned, as you do, to read and anticipate what is going on around me. It doesn’t mean I’ll always get it right, it just means I am, like the vast majority of drivers, keeping my eyes open and hoping that if I get it wrong, it will be no worse than an embarrassment.

There is a design flaw in my car too; the pillars either side of the windscreen are so wide that from the driver’s seat they can block an entire car from sight if it is, for instance, coming round a bend or a roundabout. After the first close shave with that, I became even more careful at corners and junctions. It would only take a momentary inattention for a disaster to happen. You could say that by paying attention to known potential problems, I am much more likely to avoid them.

What you can’t predict are the unexpected actions of other road users or unforeseeable events on the road. Then, all you can do is allow that instinctive reaction that has been shaped by habit and training to take over and hopefully avoid an accident. There may not be time to think and it is that training that saves the day when a deer runs out of the undergrowth… or a cyclist sails into the road.

We do the same sort of training through habituation and experience with our personalities too. We learn early when to ‘put on the brakes’ or slow down for a corner. We learn how to pause and observe at a crossroads, considering our options and trying to see our way clear beyond the choices that are presented to us. It is all part of growing up and our underlying character… daring, timid, curious or blasé, will determine how fast or how slowly we take our corners as our personality grows into itself.

There are always the ‘blind spots’ too… like the windscreen pillars that prevent us from getting a clear view in certain situations. They are personal to each one of us and are determined both by experience and how we have first reacted to it, then learned from it, as much as by what really motivates us and the underlying needs of the personality.

Most of us come up against those blind spots with alarming regularity and quite often it is others who see them before we do… just as a passenger riding alongside us in a vehicle will have a slightly different view and perspective of the road than we who are driving.

It is not until we ourselves become aware of the blind spots that we are able to factor them into our choices and behaviour, but once we are aware, then it is difficult to overlook them when they come into play.

We may find ourselves going round in circles; the circumstances different every time, but an underlying current is essentially the same and stems from our own inner needs… for reassurance, for love, for freedom or validation. The real reasons for these cyclical events are not external but lie deep within our own heart and mind. The only way to stop going continually round the roundabout is to break the cycle and find an exit… and we can’t do that till we know where we are… and where we are trying to reach.

Anyone can make a car move by learning the basic controls, but it takes training to learn how to drive safely on the roads. You can learn on your own on private land, read the books on road safety and observe what others do, but it is not until you are in heavy traffic and driving at speed that you really understand what driving a car is all about. And at that point it is both useful and reassuring to have a qualified driver sitting next to you. It only on the roads that you truly become aware of the potential problems and develop the habits and training that let you see them before they occur and know how to either avoid or lessen their impact.

Although the analogy is close, it isn’t perfect where life is concerned. You can learn from experience… there are no private roads, as everything any of us may do with have some impact on others. Books alone can do nothing to teach us how to live, but books in conjunction with our own understanding can teach a very great deal when we apply what we have learned to our lives. And sometimes it is both useful and reassuring to have someone beside you who knows the roads and its pitfalls.

Friendship is a great teacher, founded as it is in trust. Experience is an effective teacher… but it is not always painless. Schools, groups and organisations, such as the Silent Eye, can travel with you and provide guidance. But the best teacher is the unseen presence of the back-seat driver in every one of us, who sees both the driver and the road and just happens to have the perfect map. Learning to listen to its silent direction will get us where we need to be.

Ilkley Imbolc 001 (2)

23 thoughts on “Back seat driver

  1. Fantabulous post! Since both subject dear to my heart, of course – – LOL – – My mum’s car (look at THAT will ya? I just typed mum, instead of mom – oh my gosh – I think I’m pre-acclimating for next year’s visit to your slice of space on the planet – LOL) has those durn pillars and since my hit in my own driver’s door this summer, I’m still on hyper-alert and and chafe against the blind spots – even more – 🙂

    And, nearing the end of a frenzied, busy year – during which personal health gains have taken a hit – cause I thought I had worked to get back up to my old ‘fightin’ weight’ – LOL – but, apparently, somewhere along the way, I re-adopted work habits that caused the problems in the first place! LOL – ( and surely, my own fault, cuz my internal ‘navigator/backseat driver’ has been harping at me for many months, now, and I relapsed into old habits – “sure, sure, just really want to do this, first, THEN will do that – – 🙂 and now, have had the message delivered in way that I must understand – 🙂 and so – thanks for the synchronicity of your post – got goose bumps and so, know my recent decisions to stay on the road (course) even when it seems like a risk – are ‘right for me – for now” who knows what might happen after disaster averted and I’m back on course? LOL – Thanks so much for your insight (and the goosebumps – we can’t leave them out – LOL)


    1. The back-seat driver generally knows what we need and where we should be going long before it filters through our own dense skulls… and then when we don’t listen we end up knowing we should have done 🙂 Guilty of it myself way too often where practical things are concerned!
      Looking forward to that visit next year 🙂 ( And I am inordinately pleased about the goosebumps 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 I’m already ‘leaning’ into the new course – and it’s been a blast – even while I clean up skid marks from the old highway travels – 🙂 trust you will know the reasons why – 🙂


          1. I like the golden threads that seem to run through so many eras, epochs, cultures, etc – – LOL

            So right now – looking at:

            “Time will Tell…”


            “The Road Less Traveled….”

            I swear – being a thoughtful personage, who isn’t rushed into decisions, may, in the end, kill me – LOL

            I rather from standard stock regarding, “be a bull in a china shop” – and, that way of being does have it’s merits – but as I grow – I pull it out for reality use less and less – even while my inner landscape cries out,

            “Ole! Charge!… Ole? What are ya waiting for? Charge! Charge? Now What?!?”



              1. 🙂 I like to explore the different pathways – durn cold day in hades before I jump out of a perfectly good airplane, though, unless circumstances warrant – LOL – sorry – love bringing that up with your son as part of the conversation – yes – I donated, etc., but seriously, I read that (and how long ago – time has little meaning to me other than ordering events/experiences/learnings in order so I can sed out a scout report – LOL)

                But – I loved the dive he took – even while I thought, “fine – but I’d rather see you skipping through highland meadows…”

                I’ve learned that what I want is rarely a factor in the whole, end-all scheme fo things – but I still give in to old ways of being, via (I hope) loving teasing – 🙂 “OMG! You jumped? On purpose?!?” 😀


                  1. 🙂 I’ve kept you long enough – have a good night – (and yes, my favorite pic of him is the last one in the post – that is how I see him – and don’t care what was actually going on at the time it was taken – all I know is when I think of him and his journey – I always see, in my heart/mind – 2 pic – #14 in your linked post …and the “OMG” pic from his jumping out of a mechanically sound airplane – My mind still prefers the ground level view – but who knows? I might change – 🙂 g’night – wonderful to chat/visit with ya – 🙂 sorely needed this chat – thanks for making a difference in my life – 🙂


                    1. I’m always happy to chat… though your goodnight is my good morning and my master calls 😉 But yes, I can relate to both those as perfect images… though I have a few others too that haven’t been seen publicly that mean just as much. x

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Having driven in Spain for the last 17 years I have developed a sixth sense and have activated the eyes in the back of my head!! Sue Vincent​ uses the analogy of learning to driving to illustrate how in life you may have the concept down but you need the benefit of experience as well to get you through safely. Great article, pop over and read.


  3. Now I know what my problem is, I have too many ‘blind spots’. All those things I should have seen coming, that caught me in an unwary moment. Or when injustice or unfairness seems to rob me of my commonsense. Thought I would get smarter as I got older, but not much sign of it yet…


  4. I like this analogy of driving and the cycles of life. How often do we get stuck on that roundabout, until we figure out how to leave it and where we want to go?
    Thanks for making me think about my personal roundabouts and blind spots.
    Do you drive a Suzuki SX 4 by any chance? We had one and that had huge pillars either side of the windscreen. I had to learn to look before I got to bends, because my view was obscured by them. They looked great though! 🙂


    1. No… I drive a little Puma, Dorne, with pillars way too big for her size. But the self same problem as the Suzuki.
      We’ve all got those areas we can’t see through though … I’m trying to push through the odd one or two of my own at present.


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