Falling in love is like driving on the highway.
It can be fun, adventure-filled, but full of danger.
In driver education class in high school, I was taught to be a defensive driver—to look for potential dangers and to steer clear of them.
I was taught to drive for the other driver, and above all, to protect myself.
And while this is helpful and even necessary when behind the wheel, I’m finding that it can hinder your love relationships.
Yes, being on the lookout for potential dangers is good, but constantly scanning your mirror for them is counterproductive.
Yes, looking out for your own wellbeing is prudent, but continually trying to protect yourself is foolish.
I admit that driving is at times terrifying. You can be cruising along care free, singing along to your favorite Earth, Wind, and Fire song, when you suddenly hit a pothole, or get a flat, or another car veers into your lane, nearly hitting you or actually plunging into you. You can end up getting rushed to the hospital, on your way to the emergency room on a Saturday night.
Yet despite the risks, most of us haven’t abandoned driving, turning in a Certificate of Non-Operation form at the local DMV office.
Having been in two back-to-back car accidents a few years back, I am an especially cautious driver.
Specifically, I don’t like to make unprotected left turns, and I drive very slowly in the rain.
(I’m that car that’s going fifty in the right hand lane when it’s raining.)
When on the road, I’m always asking myself, What if? And then trying to keep myself protected from the hazards (both known and unknown), that I am certain are lurking around.
It’s so bad that my family says that I drive like an old woman, and they’re right.
I’m realizing that like driving, falling in love requires being okay with a certain level of risk—recognizing that you could get into an accident at any point, but being okay with this fact because the view along the coast is too beautiful to not make the trip.
And isn’t beauty worth seeing?
Driving worth the experience?
Imagine what mellifluous experiences await us on the journey, if we dare get in the car.
Of course we should pay attention to warning signs on the road, in the same way that we pay attention to the speed limit and other signs meant to keep us safe.
Ignoring them would be stupid.
But maybe we shouldn’t just look for warning signs.
Maybe we should look for rest stops where we can rejuvenate and remap our course, and for mom and pop diners where we can grab good grub for cheap, and for little towns that we can explore.
Perhaps more than beauty awaits us. Perhaps love and patience, her two good friends, await us too.
So today I choose to be a fearless, beauty-loving, adventure-seeking, road warrior.
This year, I am taking a drive up the coast.
I don’t know exactly where I’m going or how long the trip will last, but I do know that the view is breathtaking and the company—frabjous.
Happy Valentine’s Day!