August 17, 2017

The Vehicles that Transformed Me: 4 Mantras I Learned from Driving.

Driving is one of my favourite hobbies.

When it comes to healing, all I need to do is pop my key in the ignition and place my foot on the gas. I live in the prairies, so driving on the open road is my form of meditation.

Solo road trip? Yes, please! Sign me up for some self-discovery.

For it is when I’m driving that the questions come, the answers follow, and the lessons present themselves.

To date, I have had as many vehicles as movies in “The Fast and Furious” franchise, and each vehicle has come equipped with a message.

Here are my top four:

1. This Too Shall Pass—It’s Just a Matter of Time.

My first vehicle was a red Chevrolet Sprint, and I adored her.

She lasted for three whole weeks thanks to a collision with a Ford F-something-50.

I could write a novel on how this changed the trajectory of my life and how I lived with chronic pain from that moment on, but the greatest lesson that Sprint gave me is that everything is temporary.

Relationships. Joy. Pain. Material possessions. Life—all of it is impermanent.

Since we never know how long someone or something will be in our midst, we need to fully embrace what is here, now. Sometimes we will get to let go on our own terms. But other times? The universe steps in and does it for us, whether we are ready or not.

2. We Can Only Learn How to do Something by Doing it—So Do it Already.

She was gorgeous, sleek, silver, somewhat affordable, and had a large fin. She looked just like a shark out of water, and I loved her. Oh, Hyundai Tiburon, how I longed to take you home. The only problem? She was a standard transmission and all my driving experience involved automatics.

Thank the used car dealership gods that I brought my dad along.

He could see the desire in my eyes and he could hear the ache in my voice. Unfortunately, so could the salesman. We paid full price without a third thought—we did give it a second thought (we weren’t completely out of our minds!)—and I smiled in the passenger seat as my dad drove us home while Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” blared through the speakers.

And do you know what happened after that? I learned how to drive a standard transmission. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t the hardest skill to master, either. Within weeks, I had the windows rolled down, my boy bands cranked up, and I confidently cruised the streets feeling a sense of pride.

My Tiburon taught me that fear doesn’t have to hold us back. I bought a vehicle I didn’t know how to drive yet, but if it didn’t work out, I could’ve always sold the car and dealt with the failure. Big deal.

But what would have happened if I never took the risk and tried? What if I took the safe route and just bought an automatic? I would have always wondered if I was capable.

We need to take risks in order to grow—and these risks don’t need to be epic “marry the first guy you meet on Tinder” sorts of risks. It can be as simple as joining a dating site when you’ve had your heart broken and you’re afraid to be vulnerable again.

A safe life is a stale life. Challenge yourself.

3. We Can’t Always Manifest what we Want—But the Universe Gives Us what we Need.

I had a pretty good idea of what the “big secret” was before Rhonda Byrne shared it with the world. Over time, I began to notice a curious thing: what I seemed to focus on, both positive and negative, would show up in my life—people, opportunities, material possessions, you name it.

I was becoming friends with the Law of Attraction.

So, when I wanted to start a family, it seemed like a no-brainer that I would sell my sporty two-door and purchase an SUV. I needed to let the universe know that I was creating physical space for the children that I wanted.

I placed an ad on a website requesting a teal Hyundai Tucson with black cladding, and I received a reply within a few days. Four-door manifested! Time to bring on the babies.

But the years passed, and so did the hope for children. I had manifested the vehicle, but I couldn’t manifest my greatest dream.

Everything seemed so complicated. I couldn’t make sense of the universe.

So in retaliation, I sold my SUV and funded a humanitarian journey to the third world. Ha, take that universe! I sure showed you!

I cried when another woman drove away in my Tucson—the symbol of a family I was unable to create. Yet, I have come to understand that we aren’t always meant to have what we want, when we want it. We aren’t meant to understand the apparent rejection of our thoughts and vision boards (or whatever you do to gently nudge your reality into your dreams). I don’t know exactly why this is just yet. Maybe the universe is smarter than I am?

(This just in: The universe is smarter than I am.)

Like driving, we won’t know what detours and dead ends await us on the roads of our lives, but we can trust that we’ll inevitably arrive at the right destination.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Out—Step into the Spotlight.

The problem with selling your vehicle to fund a trip (full disclosure: I have done this more than once) is that when you eventually come home, you don’t have the means to travel around your own city.

Sure, if you live in a larger city, you’ll have public transit and the subways, or you can bike and walk. Where I live, the transit system isn’t the greatest, places are too far away to walk, and it’s minus a billion degrees half the time, so biking isn’t our first choice for the icy roads.

I needed a car.

Enter my yellow Fiat 500 Sport.

I wasn’t prepared for the attention that I would get because of her. It was like driving under a spotlight. She was the only yellow Fiat in the city, and I would get texts, Facebook messages, and endless comments about where I was and questions about why I was there. I could never just blend in. People would see me, but I wouldn’t see them. We don’t have yellow cabs here either, so there was simply no hope for camouflage.

I never once thought that having a little yellow car would make me stand out.

And here I was, feeling…awkward with the attention.

I found myself consciously smiling every time I took her for a spin. There would be no more crying in this car; heaven forbid somebody notice me being fully human. Then I realized that I was being ridiculous, and did what any sane person would do: I embraced the uncomfortable feelings.

I surrendered into the joy of people caring enough to know where I was, and scaring the sh*t out of me by honking at the most inopportune times. I allowed myself to be noticed.

I decided that maybe this was a step in the right direction. I didn’t aim to stand out but I also didn’t aim to hide. I just wanted to be me.

I love my Fiat more than any other vehicle that I have owned, and I am finally comfortable in it.

And this is where all of the lessons tie together:

We use many vehicles in our lives—not just the ones with four wheels—in an effort to understand and transform ourselves.

Everything is temporary so it’s important to challenge ourselves and embrace each moment. We must realize that the universe doesn’t owe us anything, but even when things don’t turn out how we want them to, life is still worth living—the fact that we exist makes all the difference. We shouldn’t hide who we are. On the contrary, we need to feel comfortable in our own skin.

I can’t wait to see what my next car will teach me. Until then, I’m just going to kick back and enjoy the ride.



Author: Courtney Dunn
Image: Author’s own; YouTube
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman

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