Jules de Gaultier stated, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war againstreality. ” I think the “war against reality” is the process of aging andimagination is our naivet that shields us from the frightening world.
Byimagining that situations will never be uncomfortable; girls will neverexperience heartbreak; men will always have jobs to support their families; andpeople will never become sick, we are setting our selves up for a slap in theface when, inevitably, we are forced to notice how the real world works. Disillusionment is the acceptance of truth and the understanding or reality. Tobe disillusioned, one becomes disappointed when his or her opinion or belief isfound out to be false. Usually an act forces them to realize the truth when theyprobably would rather continue in their own beliefs.
Santa Clause, for instance,is precisely an illusion. As great and magical it is for a child to believe inthe jolly, fat man with a snow white beard sliding down their chimney onChristmas to leave the “good” kids presents, there comes a time when kidslearn that Santa is only a spirit; a story told them by the same parents thatactually provided the gifts. The naiveté of a child who believes this mythis also accompanied by the delight that believing in the myth brings. At sometime, each child comes to the reality that there is no Santa Clause, there isonly the love of the parents who were perpetuating the myth in order to increasethe quality of their child’s young life. To find the myth shattered is likebursting the bubble, yet, to replace it with the understanding of the motivationis a comfort and there is joy in learning that something was done only to makeone’s life better. My naivet in the awesome act of driving a car was somewhatlike my belief in Santa.
I felt confident that the task was easy, something Ihad the ability to do, and something that I had no reason to believe I would beanything but excellent at doing. I was so confident, in fact, that I was noteven planning to read the driver’s manual prior to taking the written test inorder to receive my driver’s license. It was only the threat by my mother thatshe would not bring me back to retake the test that convinced me to study. I wastoo cool to NOT be able to drive. I could drive the bumper cars at Six Flags,couldn’t I? I could drive my neighbors go-cart, couldn’t I? I was anexcellent bicycle rider.
What was the big deal about driving a car? I was sococky that I did not even realize that there was anything to be afraid of. I didnot even know that what I didn’t know could kill me. I had absolutely nocomprehension of the terrifyingly wonderful and frightening responsibility ofdriving. I had no idea how car accidents happened and no plans to be involved inone. The first step to knowledge is knowing that you are naive. Unfortunately, Iwas too naive to even know that.
My time of crisis came not once, not twice, butthree times within six months of receiving a driver’s license. When I had beendriving only five days, I never questioned my capability of driving down HolcombBridge Road with the music playing loud and a very excitable girlfriend as mypassenger. What came as a shocking surprise, was that people tend to stopquickly on that particular stretch of road and not give the driver behind themmuch more than a second’s notice. If the driver is a new sixteen year-old whois changing lanes and looking backward, this fact results in a crash. That wouldbe me.
Imagine my horror, as I realized I had allowed my car to run into the onein front of me all because I was too confident that nothing like this couldhappen to me. I was devastated by this turn of events. To add insult to injury,I had to pay the $250. 00 deductible charge in order to have my car fixed, had tobe without my car for over a month, and had to answer to my parents and friendsas to how this could happen to me, a careful driver! Being responsible, brokeand without a car will crush naiveté. It was only two months later when Islammed my car between an electrical pole and the wall of a graveyard that Ibegan to feel that perhaps I did not know as much as I thought I did aboutdriving.
Again, I was too busy with my music and my bare feet, to plan where Iwas going in advance. Therefore, when the road came up sooner that I expected, Idid not do a very good job of making my turn. Again, there was a loss of$250. 00, my car for a month of repairs, and my parents’ confidence in myability to drive. When I lost control of my car on rain-slicked Holcomb BridgeRoad and wrecked for the third time, I was ready to accept that I did not havethe ability to drive that I thought I had.
It takes experience, I am told, toknow how to handle a car that is skidding and I believe that now. The wisdomgained from my transition from naivet to crisis is immeasurable. I now acutelyunderstand how dangerous driving can be. In fact, I am actually scared to drive. I have even gone so far as to have a panic attack while driving, convinced thatother drivers are going to crash into me.
I feel my body tensing and my nervesgoing into overdrive almost every time I get behind the wheel. I know this isnot the safest way to drive, but I honestly cannot help it. Now that Iunderstand the power one has when sitting in the driver’s seat, it is almostmore than I can stand. I am hoping that with time and experience, I will becomea confident, safe driver once again. The naïve dream I once had of drivingas the ultimate freedom for a sixteen year old has been replaced with thecaution that my newfound wisdom has instilled in me. I know now how easy itwould be to become scarred for life, killed, or even to kill someone else.
Iwill never again take driving for granted, thinking it is a mindless way to getfrom one place to another. My carefree thrill of driving with no regard toconsequences has forever been changed because I have painfully experiencedreality. Much like my belief in Santa Clause for many wonderful years, my bubbleburst when I realized that driving a real car was nothing like driving thebumper car or the go-cart. However, just as I knew my parents let me believe inSanta only as long as it was still good for me, I know that my less-than-stellardriving experience has also been good for me. If I had not had my bump-ups, evenall three of them, I would not have the healthy respect and fear for drivingthat should always be with a person.
I know that right now, I have too muchfear, and I do hope to find that balance so that I am a safe, confident driver.