Lateralization of brain function means that there are certain mental processes that are mainly specialized in either the left or the right hemisphere. For fluid physical and cognitive activity, we depend on the cooperation of both sides of our brain. For fluidity in our driving lives, we likewise benefit from an implicit agreement of equitable give-and-take in our relationships because, where there’s room for more than a driver, our mode of transportation is also lateralized: driver’s side and passenger’s side. And, just as with the brain, which has specific functions located in the front or in the rear, there are front seats and back seats.
When a passenger, with whom are we following along? Who are we entrusting with power? To some extent, whenever we’re a passenger, we are at the mercy of someone else’s choices. We don’t always acknowledge to ourselves that we’ve given over a portion of our power to someone else when we’re in the passenger seat, but it only takes that one time – like when it’s obvious the driver is not open to our input. Our adrenaline revs in its output, which drives the point home: no steering wheel, no power. It can be an innocuous moment, such as teaching a newbie how to drive (Aaaagh! You’re going too fast! Slow down or you’re going to hit them!). You realize how impossible it is to get your own leg to the driver’s side and stomp down on the brake, forcing the nightmare to end. You could always open your passenger door and bail to save yourself, but the newbie – who might be a loved one – could suffer harm or inadvertently bring the law down upon you. You shakily get out of the car after assuring the newbie “you did great”.
Then there’s the more serious side of passengerhood: the driver isn’t taking you where you had mutually agreed to go (figuratively and literally). Ominous music, called anxiety – maybe fear – is playing in your body.
As drivers, when we take on passengers, who have we invited into a moment of our lives? Whose company are we regularly keeping? Even with the steering wheel firmly in our hands, are we too frequently acting as taxi (meeting other peoples’ agendas) and not making sure we’re meeting our own needs as well?
When you’ve a moment to self-reflect: Is your destination one that is beneficial for you and/or your loved ones? Is your driving a means of realizing a positive accomplishment or are you usually driving away from something or someone (driving as a means of avoidance or escapism)?
To assess aspects of your life, you don’t necessarily need a mirror – Just look over at your driveway.
*Fellow Travelers: Just for fun, take a peek at this site (if your brain went, “Whaaah? So did mine. No worries, ’cause it’s all in our minds.