If you had friends like mine, they were ones giving me the toughest time. “What are you thinking?..seriously?” OK – bad example; but I do think standards are important for a lot of other reasons beyond clumsy kissing.
For centuries, our tribes, ball teams, trades and professions have all enshrined common-sense practices by developing (and enforcing) standards. Look around. They are everywhere!
Movies get ratings. Magazines and testing labs bestow their “Seals”. And the insurance industry? It grants ‘stars’ for safe cars. Bumpers, airbags, seat belts…every one of them is an excellent example of standards that make sense.
But do we even think about them? Somehow, I don’t think the poor guy who survived his near-cliff experience woke up that morning thinking, “Gosh, I am so thankful that OSHA, ANSI and 26 states have set standards for guard rail construction and performance”. True, as he sat in the back of the ambulance after the wreck, he was likely breathing a prayer or two. But I seriously doubt he made any references to OSHA guard rail sections 1910.23 or 1926.500-503.
A jolting reminder of another safety standard came at me fast as I was driving to work the other morning. My route is a familiar one, one that I travel every single day. I was only about a mile from the house when, from out of nowhere, a new and angry pothole darted out in front of my oncoming Buick and BAM! And in the same nanosecond? My rear-view mirror popped off, landing under my feet, laying there useless and wounded. Are you kidding me? Really?
Instantly, my whole driving experience changed. I pulled over to check for any damage. And while I still had my side mirrors, the whole feeling was now wrong. As I got back on the road, I instantly missed taking occasional glances behind me. I had become so accustomed to relying on them and now, they weren’t there. I felt blind. I had no sense of what was in back; no sense of what might be happening behind me. Vulnerable. Not good.
The trip to work that morning was so much slower than usual. It wasn’t natural to be twisting around, looking over my shoulder and then forward again. I was not a happy man. When I wasn’t contorting, I was looking with disgust at that silly piece of glass and plastic now riding shotgun in the passenger seat. Shaking my head, I returned my eyes to the road ahead and…Brake lights – NOW!!!! With my tires screeching to all that I had not been paying attention to what was ahead, my front bumper stopped just 6-inches short of a terrified soccer mom and her minivan. Whew, crisis averted and, exhale.
Let’s get back to standards for a moment. Auto makers are a pretty clever group of folks. They know the cars’ primary purpose is to get us from Point A to Point B. They also know it doesn’t happen in PARK. We get there in DRIVE…moving forward. So one day, in a meeting room far, far away, all the engineers and designers gathered for a sit-down. After several days of intense steering [sic] committee meetings, they voted to ratify one fundamental standard. One by one, they each went up and signed the Declaration of Standard. It read, “Seats (especially the one behind the steering wheel) shall henceforth face forward”. The rest, as they say, is history.
If you think about it, Life functions in pretty much the same fashion. Same rules apply. We’re all wanting to go somewhere better..to improve our lot…to make our lives mean something. And I’ll admit when I look back over my past, there are plenty of instances where I don’t think I was ‘driving’ with any rear-view at all.
Wayne Dyer and plenty of other similar voices are right. It is not healthy to live in the past. But I also believe the real gift in remembering our past, is gaining awareness to make better choices now, in the present. “Oh yeah…I’ve been in this situation before. At least this time around, I know what I’m not going to do.” Yes my fellow motorists, the minute you’ve had that conversation with yourself, you know you’ve got good mirrors.
Life Mirrors come in all shapes, sizes and forms. For me, the best one I have, is the one who loves me best. For you, it may (or may not) be your family. Life Mirrors might be the time you lost your job and swore to never be there again. Life Mirrors don’t have to be complicated. They can be simple…simple as seeing a 4-year old being kind to their grandmother. Identify them. Figure it out. You have to know who or what your Life Mirrors are.
And once you know what they are? Then you have to know where they are. And sorry, but someone elses’ mirrors don’t count…they aren’t yours. You’d be on the evening news if you tried driving to work using the mirrors of the next car over? It’s not going to end well.
On the flip-side, driving by mirror alone (even your own) is no less dangerous.
If you’ve ever been seriously victimized or hurt, you know what I’m talking about. At one point or another, the temptation for me to dwell on something terrible in the past is oh so seductive. But fear not kindred commuters, auto makers have thought of that one too. You’ll see their sage wisdom etched in your passenger-side mirror. “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.” See, I told you they were clever. Getting to the point where you look at your past hell and say, “Hey, it happened. And you know what? I’m still here”. It’s a huge mile marker on your way back to a healthy mindset.
Find your mirrors. Figure out a way that allows you to see what’s behind you without jeopardizing your ability to move forward. You will get to where you want to be.
And me and my early morning brush with disaster? Now filled with a whole new appreciation for my lowly (and wounded) rear view mirror, I thanked it for its’ gifts as I glued it back into its’ rightful position in the car..front and center.
Front and center…my experience has been that it’s the best place to be. Especially if you want to move your Life, rear view forward.