Windshields, Courage, and the Real Me
What is it about windshields that make us so brave?
It happened today. I was running late to a memorial service. Time had gotten away from me and I didn’t realize it until I was on the edge of tardiness. So, I jumped in my car and zoomed out of my driveway. Gotta get there! Gotta get there! Gotta get there!
One mile later, I pulled to a stop at a four-way intersection. The guy to my right had clearly gotten there before me. There was no question. He had the right of way. A third driver pulled up directly across from me. And, we all sat there looking at one another.
We all know the rule, right? If two drivers reach a four-way stop at the same time, the driver on the right goes first.
So, I look over at the guy. He’s just sitting there. I wave him on. He just sits there. I wave again…and that’s when my courage makes an appearance:
“Come on and go, you freaking idiot!”
I’m looking right at him. Saying this out loud. But, he's oblivious, so he waves me through instead.
“Fine! If you’re not going, then I’m going!” I hit the gas and sped on.
And, then I wondered if maybe he could see my lips moving. Could he read lips? Was my emotion on my face? Could he tell that I was being hateful? Ummm, did he know me?
Hmmm. That hadn’t occurred to me as I blasted him from behind my magic force-field.
And, then I felt guilty. Well, I didn’t just feel guilty. I was guilty. You see, if you take away the windshield, I would never have said those words. In fact, if we had simply been standing in the open air, twenty feet apart, I probably would have just smiled at him and kept waving him on until he went first. That’s just who I am when I’m not secure behind that special invisible barrier. I don't know why. I guess people are just more real to me when there's no glass between us. (I'm going to have to think about that. There might be another blog in there somewhere. Hmmm.)
Then, something else crossed my mind.
Maybe, when we are all alone and tucked in behind that engineered safety glass we finally feel like we are in a safe place. Maybe it is the only time we can truly let the inside come visit the outside. We unconsciously let all of our guards down.
We say out loud what we really think. About politics. About our spouses. About our bosses. Everyone.
We practice speeches. “Here’s what I should have said: Blah, blah, blah.” “Next time, this is what I’ll say…I’ll really tell him!”
We laugh at stuff on the radio that we might shun if someone else was around. We sing the real lyrics of songs instead of bleeping ourselves. (Come on church folk, you know who you are!)
We fart without ramifications.
We sing along to Katy Perry …or Madonna… or Cher …or Leo Sayer. (Leo Sayer, you say? Well, look him up.) And, we don’t care that we are out of key. In fact, we think we sound pretty darn good.
We even think that we're invisible as we mine our nostrils for hidden treasure.
But, we're also real in other ways behind that transparent wall.
We cry in the car….all alone.
We scream in the car where no one can hear.
We pray. Real prayers. The ones that matter. Really sharing our hearts, the good and the bad with the God that we hope hears and cares. And, sometimes that’s because we think that He may be the only one that does.
Windshields are amazing.
It is a statement on our modern society that the only place we can truly be ourselves is all alone in the car. Can you relate?
Sometimes, I wish I had someone that I could be completely real with. Someone that I could take off all the guards and be real without the fear of hurting that person or hurting myself. Share my hopes. Share my crazy dreams. Share my weaknesses. My shortcomings. My struggles. My pain. My joy.
There always seems to be a reason to hold back at least a little bit, even with the closest of friends….at the very least the farts and the goldmining.
Oh well, thank God for windshields.