Today, much to my surprise, it was raining when I left for work. Although it is still technically spring, where I live in the desert, it does not rain often, so it was quite a pleasant surprise. And, since I never check the weather, it is always a surprise to me when the weather strays from bright blue cloudless skies and warm days.
But, since I have lived in the desert now for nearly ten years I have lost my ability to drive in rainy weather. It’s not quite the same as riding a bike. That whole saying that even as long as you go without riding a bike, as soon as you try again, you instantly remember and then you can get back on and you are a pro just like when you were a youth. That’s not the case for me when it comes to driving in inclement weather. Or it’s more not the case while driving with other people who also are no good at driving in not sunny weather.
See there are a number of things that happen due to not having much weather. Windshield wipers basically melt and deteriorate. Due to lack of use the driver usually has no idea that they have started to fall apart until they go to use them and then they are like, “well poop, now I can’t see clearly out of my windshield because my wipers are all falling apart!” This leads to poor visibility. Then there are the roads. Vehicles normally leave a little bit of oil and such on the road while driving, it’s just what happens. This builds on the road. And then when it rains, it lifts up off the ground and gets all slippery, causing not the best driving conditions. Add in human error, texting and driving, reaching for a cup of coffee or an itch on a foot and there you have it, more accidents on rainy days in the desert.
This morning I climbed in my SUV and I told myself that I could do this. The driving anxiety has started to come back as result of the anxiety returning, and adding in the rain isn’t making things any better. However, I know I can do this and I have a very safe car and I will just increase my following distance and I will be fine.
One thing that I tend to get caught up doing when I sit in traffic is look in the rear view mirror. I am sitting still and I look to see if the person behind me is going to hit me. It’s quite the negative way of thinking, the assuming that the worst is going to happen. It also tenses up my whole body. Today it dawned on me that I am literally looking behind me. And that got me thinking, how often do I look behind me, instead of focusing on what is in front of me. I can not control the person behind me. If they are going to hit me, they are going to hit me. If I tense up, I will be in more pain in the long run.
I challenged myself that while sitting still to not look in my rear view mirror but to look forward. To pay attention to what’s to come. To be in the present. I noticed that I dropped my shoulders and I took deeper breaths. The fact is that I can do something about my future, I can make decisions and I can act in certain ways that will make a change that will affect my future. I can not say the same about my past.
I made it to work safely. It took me longer than normal because of the rain and the fact that I was driving slow and incredibly carefully. I arrived at work somewhat exhausted due to the stress that I went through during my commute. But, I learned something and I felt enlightened. I parked the car and hopped out of my seat. I looked forward and started walking. I used the button on my key and I hit the lock button. I heard it chirp telling me it was locked. Unlike usual, I did not turn around to ensure that the mirrors folded in (a sign that the car is indeed locked), I trusted that I heard the chirp and I focused on what was in front of me and I walked forward, focusing on the day that was in front of me.