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...