I seem to always be on the go … non-stop 24/7 … behind the wheel of a car … at night. For some reason this doesn’t strike you as a calming visual does it? Me neither. I love to travel and to drive, and in recent days, driving seems to be less hassle than flying, but it has it’s burdens too. When I was a little kid I used to sit in the back seat of the car following along with the road map, watching the road signs and playing navigator. I have been managing airport terminals for over 30+ years. When I was 10 years old I was ‘mature’ enough to travel airports alone with my sister and friendly flight attendants would assist us in flying from Florida to Maryland/Pennsylvania. When I 14 I went out to Wyoming for a Girl Scout Wider Opportunity adventure for a few weeks to represent Florida. I had to travel by way of Colorado and I recall volunteering to stay overnight for the free plane ticket, but then not qualifying because I was a minor. My mother was so pissed that I had even considered it. I did not know what was the problem – I had just spent 2 weeks in the wilderness in Wyoming and she was reacting to a free hotel in downtown Denver? pfft. I had no fear back then.
But as we get older and more aware, and especially more fatigued, we may develop fear, anxiety of the unknown, and panic can build. The following loop might play in your head while on the road: “What if I am late for this meeting?, Did I take the wrong road again?, Am I prepared for this client?, That jerk drives like a maniac!, Do I have enough gas?, How in the heck do I cross 8 lanes of traffic without getting killed by those trucks?, I missed my exit – now what?, Where is my hotel?, Will someone hurt me if I ask for help in this strange/new area?, Exit … Left?!? I thought all exits were on the right? ”
Hopefully not all of that. But I am sure some of it sounds familiar.
I have noticed that over the years I do not see as well at 6am or 9pm, which has caused some confusion on where exactly I was driving because I could not read the small road signs in the darkness. After mapping out my routes, getting eye exams and changing the times of travel (if possible) this improved some. Not 100% so you’ve been warned.
I have also noticed that the last 3 times I have gotten completely lost in a major city (Toronto, New Orleans, Dallas) had all the same conditions: 1) I arrived at the end of the day after working and traveling a total of 12-14 hours so I was fatigued; 2) my co-pilot sucked and I should never rely 100% on another person or instrument to be my guide when I am that tired because it evolves into a bloody battle of Anger. 2/3 of those trips I had people who could not read maps nor were willing and the last trip I had a GPS that was improperly programmed by one of those peeps so it sent me to the wrong place. I assume complete responsibility for driving the car and not expecting this to happen, driving when I was too tired, and although I had a road map for each place I was too exhausted to sort it out and so went for local help each time.
Many people will display Anger when what they are feeling is Fear or Anxiety, because they are angry at themselves and/or the situation for not being able to control it or sort out a solution. I even used the words “I am not blaming you” when communicating to a relative over the phone what my predicament was when I called to ask for help and compare what I was seeing in person to the road map against Mapquest on her computer. I wanted her to know that I was frustrated and tired, but definitely not angry at her. This awareness and communication tip was helpful to finding a resolution. We have been operating by behavior that has been mapped out our whole lives but that does not mean we have to keep following it if it doesn’t work for us. I have tried to keep this in mind at airports when my flight has been cancelled and we are in line getting reassigned. I have noticed that by allowing the steward to do their job in helping me, not verbally attacking them, and thanking them for the help, they are actually friendlier and calmer and I ALWAYS get my seat.
hhmm. That being said and admitting my directional & visual challenges, I think I should go back to flying. I can nap on a plane.
Safe journey, Betsey xo
Copyright 2011 Soul Nourishing
Photo by Betsey Garland