I turned the corner out of the Portland PDX Airport rental car parking ramp at 10:15pm. It was dark and raining and I didn’t know where I was going. The rental, a red Nissan Sentra, much smaller than the SUV I drive at home, made me feel on-edge, cramped, and uncomfortable. When I pulled out of the ramp and onto the wet road, I felt blind.
Between glancing down at my GPS and up at the reflection of passing streetlights on the wet asphalt, I focused on changing lanes before a herd of traffic that was quickly approaching behind caught up to me. I was desperately looking for the interstate ramp, and, for a moment, there was sensory overload. I felt half-blind while my vision worked to adjust to the surroundings. The oncoming headlights made it even harder.
Then I realized something. I hadn’t adjusted my mirrors. I immediately reached up, pulled on the rear-view mirror and lined it up with the back window. I played with the side mirrors, rotating back and forth until finally settling on the right angles. The dangers around me and the path in front of me immediately become clear. I felt safer, more aware, and more in control. My eyes could focus on the street signs and the lines on the road. I quickly found the on-ramp to the interstate and was on my way downtown to my hotel. I was amazed at how difficult driving was before I had adjusted the mirrors, and how easy and second-nature it was afterward.
Then it hit me. How many times do I find myself navigating challenging parts of my journey (life) when I am unaware that my vision and judgment are clouded or hazy. Sometimes it’s tough to always know what is the “right thing.” Sometimes life seems so chaotic. Sometimes I feel like I am just waking up, going to work, and coming home to go to bed. When my laundry is piling up and my lawn needs to be mowed and my email inbox overloaded with unread messages and my relationships feel weak or vulnerable… These are the times when I feel little control over my life. These are the times my “vision” for my life seems blurred. These are the times I feel anxious, depressed, or tired. When I don’t have the right perspective, when I don’t have the right view on things, I have a tough time finding my way. It is only when I take a moment to adjust my perspective when I feel I can clearly see the proper path ahead.
Adjusting the mirrors in a car you have never driven is a lot like adjusting your perspective in life when things are unraveling. Bringing the necessary dangers into a more clear vantage makes you less fearful and allows you to silence your anxiety. Seeing clearly those things you fear allows you to know that you are in control of your own vessel – your self. Being comfortable in the driver’s seat is about having the right vision and beliefs.
Adjusting your mirrors and perspective is also about seeing what direction you need to go. When you can clearly assess the thousands of moving variables around you, you can much easier accelerate forward with confidence. Understanding the world around you and being comfortable in the chaos allows you to enjoy the journey, and eventually reach the destination.
Take some time today to adjust your mirrors. Sit down, turn off the TV or computer or phone. Become aware of all of the moving dangers around you. See them clearly and realize too that you are actually quite safe, now that you are focused. Focus on your vision, your plan to move forward, and the victory of reaching your destination. Reassess your beliefs, and what is important.
Then, put your foot on the gas, move forward, and enjoy your journey.