I needed to get my life together so I threw it into reverse. No, this isn’t some labored metaphor. I actually put my life into reverse — or, at least, my car. I know what you’re thinking. No, I didn’t back over one of my exes or anything of the sort. Not that the thought hasn’t occasionally crossed my mind for entertainment’s sake. But no.
What I did was something that will sound so simple, so inane, that you may easily wonder why I felt the need to write about it at all: I simply began reversing my car into my driveway to park. This sounds basic, I know, but I have avoided reversing the way many of us avoid parallel parking. I’m driving the largest vehicle I’ve ever owned, and I just don’t have a lot of confidence when it comes to reversing. If I’m honest, I didn’t like backing up to park even when I drove a tiny compact car. But to do it in a big, hulking SUV? No, thanks.
But I’ve spent the last few years going through a lot of changes. Some of the changes are physical and superficial- getting in better shape, finally getting braces to straighten my teeth, and getting a hair cut. Other changes run deeper. A divorce; single parenting; dating in my 30s; and dealing with work challenges including a career change, a lay off, and the start of my writing career. I’ve fallen in love, taken my first trip out of the country, and written not one or two but now 4 completed novels. I’ve experienced disappointments and heartache and have spent way too much time painstakingly monitoring my budget for any breathing room. I’ve lived. But it hasn’t been easy.
While backing into my parking spot seems insignificant, it’s not to me. I decided one day that I’m going to stop avoiding the things that scare me, no matter how small. I’m going to back into my driveway until it becomes second nature. One of these days I’ll even get it right on the first try. And I’m not stopping there.
I did kind of reverse my whole life while I was at it. I went back and thought about all the things I’ve avoided out of fear or some kind of crazy idea that I wasn’t good at something. I didn’t take art classes because I had the impression I wasn’t talented in that way. I didn’t take geography because I was afraid that it would be too hard. And what’s worse is that I love art and enjoy travel, and yet I avoided two areas that would have fit right into those…