So, I’m sitting around yesterday feeling crummy about myself. And not the usual self-loathing that comes from simply being me, but a more concrete, quantifiable inner gloom that stemmed from once again working late, thereby missing the chance to meet my wife and daughter for an early movie. I could tell they were disappointed from the note that was left on the entryway table reading “Gone to bed. Dinner in fridge. You may want to look for your heart in there, too.” Next morning, I tried to apologize in a humorous way as I rolled over to embrace my wife. I’m happy to report that after she shrieked, my wife did get a kick out of the ice pack I put under my pajama top, right next to my heart.
But the fact remained that once again, I had blown it. Backslided. Relapsed. Did I say blown it? I kicked myself, first in the shins and ankles, and then tried some more complicated moves I learned in the yoga class I once took to reduce the stress in my life. When it comes to self-flagellation, there’s nothing quite like the classic “Cranium Mashing Badger” pose.
Then, while surfing the Internet thinking about what today’s blog posting should be about, I found an obscure piece of history. One sentence, and no further explanation was really necessary. It seems that on this day, in 1970, one Mairiam Hargrave of Yorkshire, England, passed her driving test on the fortieth try.
The fortieth try!
And what is work/life balance but a driving test, anyway? You encounter obstacles, you try your best to remember the rules you have to follow to get along with your fellow human beings out there, and your best bet is to strap yourself in should you make any foolish mistakes. Well, if Mairiam Hargrave can do it, so can I! Imagine failing your driver’s test for the third time. The fifth time. The tenth time. Perhaps by then you might get the message that getting behind the wheel might not be your calling. With sadness, you give up, and reflect on a world now closed to you. No long journeys on soulless freeways, waiting for the least crime-infested rest area in which to relieve yourself. No traffic jams accompanied by talk radio. No insurance!
But, no. Not having these things is too hard to face, so you try again. An eleventh driving test. A twelfth. A twentieth. Again, you fail. But how will you get to Ikea? So you go on. And on, and on, getting it wrong, getting it wrong, getting it wrong and then…forty tries later, you emerge victorious! Thank you, Mairiam, for letting us know that being driven in life can sometimes mean we don’t see the asphalt for the trees. (I have no idea what that metaphor means, but it sounded rather poetic.)
Okay, so I’ve screwed up well more than forty times in my overachieving life, but that was without supervision, unlike a driver’s test in which there is someone there to point out what you’re doing wrong. The way I look at it, I’ve got hundreds more mistakes to make. Unless someone has the time to start supervising me. Luckily, my wife works too. And I’ll never forget that day she had a last minute meeting with an important client and I lost out on my cuddle time. Urrrgh!