Monday, November 13, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: "Don't Want to Be a Passenger..."

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is the following quote:

"I don't want to be a passenger in my own life." (Diane Ackerman)

My initial response to this is to write some profound thing about not wanting to sit passively as my life passes me by. The word 'passenger' in this context immediately makes me think of a lack of control, motivation, willpower, or even desire to be involved in determining the path one's life will take.

But then I think a bit more and realize that actually, I think being a passenger in my own life is pretty cool. I often feel like my life is a movie and I am somehow floating over the whole scene watching it unfold. It's almost like an out-of-body experience. This happens in situations where I feel pain, where I am intimidated by something or someone, where I am taking a risk, or where I am just plain overjoyed and can't believe this is all happening to me.

I remember during a particuarly terrible breakup, being able to step back from my ex-boyfriend's yelling and accusations as we walked down the street and become a "passenger" in my life. I started to see the whole thing in third person. I watched myself crying, shoulders hunched, and visualized a stream of light coming down from the heavens to shine on me. It was like a spotlight from God, comforting me and letting me know that it would all pass soon. If I hadn't been a passenger at that moment, I would have let my ego engage in a situation full of rage and pain. By taking a step back, I became strangely objective in the midst of the storm.

Every time I go do a presentation for work, I also feel like a passenger. Instead of being in the moment and giving into my fears that I am a fraud, a bullshitter, a little girl trying to pass herself off as a consultant that has something useful to say, I imagine that I am the star of a movie about some competent professional woman. I watch myself go through the motions, fielding questions, presenting facts. I am able to give these stellar presentations and it doesn't even feel like I am the one making it all happen.

Even in very happy times I find myself playing the observer. Incredible things are happening in my life right now, and it feels quite literally like I am playing out a script of some movie where the happy ending is just about to be unfolded. I can't belive this is really my life. I sit and watch it all come together and can't help but smile.

In this sense I like being a passenger, being able to disengage and watch my life go by with me as the protagonist, as if I were watching rolling hills and miles of citrus fields outside the window of a long-distance bus. I like giving myself the permission to not get caught up in certain situations, to just observe without judgment and let it all pass...

17 comments:

_+*A Elite in Paris*+_ said...

Hello Ali :) that I know from the back (hahahaha, esta é demais nao é?)

Yes, sometimes we just want to disconnect from ourselves to make some moments go faster.

Here, in Bank meetings, I see myself in sucha grown condition and sometimes I fall in reality and I tell myself: is that me? but I am only 20 YO, why am I here?

Wondering...

Beijos a ti :)

Left-handed Trees... said...

I felt this way with the prompt too...the very best things that have come to me in my life have done so in those moments where I let go of needing to be "the driver". It is just looking from the flip-side, not a bad thing to do--I think. Beautifully said.

Mandi said...

I couldn't have said it better myself!

my pink sky said...

i hear you...we all need more observation and less judgement!

ren.kat said...

What a great post- maybe we can only see how good we have it when we step back and focus on the bigger picture- eyes OFF the road ahead now and then is probably wise- thanks.

Lacithecat said...

I too prefer to be on the sidelines since my life is always too crazy to tell the wood from the trees. I know however that my inner self will keep driving me forward and take care of the excitment factor, even if I do only passively see it as a bystender. Tis all good.

paris parfait said...

Wery well said, Ali. Sometimes we all need to be a passenger - I've felt that way too - as though watching myself in a detached manner, like in a film. I often felt that way when I was first covering the Middle East - bluffing my way through, acting as though I knew something about the region, until I DID know something about the region.

Safiya said...

Interesting perspective. Distance can help us savour moments in our life more. I like the positive spin you put on this.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Dear Ali,
I love the twist you gave this piece. I too find myself, in pivotal moments, having that moment when I become the observer, more aware of the experience, more grounded in observation, and better equipped to help myself through whatever that may be. Thank you for writing about this and reminding us of the gift that type of awareness and perspective can give us. much peace & love, JP

Alina said...

Being able to judge things objectively and to live them while being a little detached can be a real bliss sometimes. I never coudl, though I wished for it. I am involved completely. In each pain and each joy I feel. I can then judge it all objectively, but not at that exact moment.

Bilal said...

interesting thoughts..
i love being a passenger in the wild roller coaster life i have- at times it sucks- but thank God, its hugely awesome:)

Dan said...

I often feel like my life is a movie and I am somehow floating over the whole scene watching it unfold.

Absolutely! And it's a fantastic feeling. And if folks say "take control" I often wonder just how much is in our control, and whether all our problems and hardships are self-created because we think we should be in control. In many cases, we'd be better just surrendering to life unfolding. ;)

alphawoman said...

This was a brilliant take.

Ali la Loca said...

~elite - Yes, it is you! Superstar of La Defense!!

~Left-handed trees - It's funny, some of my very best things in life have literally just dropped into my lap, no driving required whatsoever.

~Mandi - Thanks.

~my Pink Sky - It's that less judgment bit that is so hard.

~Ren-Kat - not being the driver is a good way to get a look at the big picture. I'm trying to do that right now with my situation in Africa.

~Laci - Yeah, somehow I'm always guaranteed a good dose of excitement, too!

~Paris Parfait - I remember you telling me about your first times in the Middle East. I identify so much with that feeling... Glad to know I'm not the only one who's going through it all.

~Safia - Thanks, although the very next day I saw the quote with a negative spin... I guess it's all part of being non-judgmental, not putting those kinds of labels on what you feel.

~Jane Poe - Awareness, peace, stillness, observation. I want them all!

~Alina - It's funny, I never used to be able to detach like this. It all started with a bad breakup...

~Bilal - I second the idea of a roller coaster! My life feels like that, too.

~Dan - The idea of control is one I think about a lot. On the one hand, I believe we have control over the micro-decisions we make - waht to eat, where to go on vacation, etc. But in the big picture, we have no control. None at all. Maybe that's why I like being the passenger so much, it reminds me of what is and isn't important.

~Alphawoman - Thanks!

zingtrial said...

Hi,You have to step back at some point and look at what is happening or going to happen.Thanks for sharing. :) .
Wish you well

Kristine said...

Great perspective. I really identify with this.

Michelle said...

This was a very meaningful post to me. I also have the ability to be a passenger in the sense that you describe, but haven't utlized it lately. Thanks for the reminder. :-)