Life’s Rules of the Road
My Road Goes Ever On
In Life’s Rules of the Road, I find it highly ironic that in a world where rules are bent and often held suspect, we rage against our broken isolation…
Outside my window, a light blue sky, broken by cloud puffs and framed by verdant trees swaying in a gentle breeze, hovers between summer and autumn. Recent days have been imbued with rainy coolness, but sizzling temps this coming week promise a late season last gasp. So, life goes, undulating between the luxury of woodland beauty to the discomfort of burning desert heat.
In late August, we transitioned from slow vacation days to busy school and work schedules. This year, my youngest two kids are taking driver’s ed, and I am grateful for past successes and peer ahead toward a new level of independence. The work involved in getting a young person from permit to license, from inexperienced to skilled driver, involves public school classes, a test, and lots of hours behind the wheel. But, in fact, more is being learned and wider life experiences are being imbibed than strict interpretation of the state requirements.
When I get behind the wheel and head into town, it becomes very apparent that daily drivers are as varied as their authentic learning experiences. Some people merely accept that there are rules of the road while others discover why there are rules of the road.
In other teaching avenues, I have been tutoring a couple of young people, helping them pass the needed tests so that they can earn their GEDs. It is not an easy process. The paths that led them to where they are in life are quite different, but the strict structure of state tests remains the same. Learning the book material, understanding the nature of test taking, and forging beyond past disappointments are key factors to future success, but once again, knowing why a GED is important personally is just as important as knowing what a GED means in a material world.
Since my family is spread far and wide these days, and I know a number of people who circulate in unique groups, representing vastly different life circumstances, I often ponder the roads people take in life—literally as well as figuratively—and why they are on them.
The biggest surprise that I constantly struggle to understand is the level of self-deception many people live with: Addictions that are explained away as necessary life support, unhealthy relationships that have more in common with addictions than anyone dares admit, compulsive complaining, narcissistic self-absorption, and the relentless ache of self-made isolation.
Rules of the literal road were not created to interfere with our enjoyment of life. Education centers were not intended as prisons where bullies rampage and kids get warped. Medical restrictions reflect more a cautionary tale than unbounded insensitivity.
Yet, the white lines that warn us of oncoming traffic and the yellow guidelines seem all but ignored in today’s I-will-drive-where-ever-I-please-world. Educational opportunities are missed or derailed in the scorching rays of emotional and physical tribulations. Who can learn textbook information when life itself makes little sense? And with so many societal disagreements, who defines factual knowledge these days?
I sometimes wonder if filling our days so completely, being furiously active, needing meds to put us to sleep and other meds to help us awake, data streams poured into our minds on a never-ending cycle, drives humanity insane.
In a world where we have access to so much that is potentially good, we seem bent on driving with wild abandon on the wrong side of the road to demand that the nearest store give us poison.
I find it highly ironic that in a world where rules are bent and often held suspect, we rage against our broken isolation…wrecks cast off to the side of life’s highway.
Today’s blue sky informs me that there will be no rain in the near future. Golden maple leaves hint at the changing season. Despite the vagaries of daily weather, I trust in the logic of seasons. Despite personal aspirations, I know I am growing older and must face predictable aches and pains, hopefully with humor rather than rage. There are rules to my life’s road, and I know why they are there—to keep me and others safe while I travel to my destination. Education is more than facts and book learning, though the facts and books do matter and should not be ignored. What I do with what I learn spells the difference between a piece of paper and a meaningful life.
What the natural world has to teach reminds me that not all learning is done in school and life has rules for a reason.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 18 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
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