Yesterday morning I woke up with a plan. Well, half a plan anyway. I decided to get in my car, ‘Warlock’ and drive….anywhere. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to be but beyond that, I was open to adventure. Now, I haven’t driven for a bit as I don’t like having family as passengers and neither of my parents like being passengers (I’ve been assured this is just a personal preference and is in no way a reflection my driving!), so I have be neglecting my autonomy (which always ends badly!). So I got myself comfortable, checked my fuel (plenty – this is going to be a good long drive!), and off I go. I’m tootling along happily when I see a ridiculously small signpost for the place I want to be (we’re talking SMALLER and thinner than a piece of A4 paper). Crap! I’ve missed the turning. Oh well, on to plan B. I know a place where I can watch one of my favourite birds – Peregrine Falcons – in the comfort of my car, so I set off for my back-up destination.
After half an hour happily bird watching I figure I’m going to need a toilet break soon so I better get on the road again. I haven’t got a clue where I want to be from here which would freak a lot of people out, but not I – I trust the Tao to keep me safe, so I’m quite happy to let it pull me in the right direction. This took the form of a landscape which I can only describe as being like the barren film location for ‘American Werewolf in London’. No mobile signal, not a sign of civilisation but LOADS of cyclists! Great, I only wanted a quiet drive in the countryside! Oh well, I’ve been put in this position for a reason and the Tao won’t chuck more at me than I can handle so I decide to relax and see what this journey is trying to teach me. Fortunately these guys were serious athletes so they were going at a fair lick (for peddle power, that is) and the nature of these tiny, winding country roads means you MUST watch your speed, so I was obviously being taught not to over think things or try and control too much, but instead to relax and enjoy the scenery. Unfortunately I couldn’t say the same for the douche-bags with the tiny willies behind me. I was overtaken FOUR times on tiny roads barely wide enough for two cars. But, as my instructor used to tell me ‘Don’t let Road Hogs bully you. As long as YOU’RE being safe they can get stuffed!’, so I wished the Speed Demon well and continued on my merry way.
By this time I’m feeling completely relaxed and fall into a head space of ‘alert contemplation’. I am the world’s worst person for getting stuck in my own head and letting things fester, so it was pleasing to note that as I drove higher and higher I could feel all my stress and ‘thinky stuff’ melting away and became incredibly content and clear-headed. I don’t know if it’s a Little People thing but I always have a need to get up high – the top floors of buildings, the top of hill ranges, I need to be up there. Anyway, as I noticed the positive effect that the drive was having on my mood, I thanked my lucky stars for Disability Living Allowance because without it I would have no car, and therefore no legs. I really don’t think the current government have any clue just what something as simple as a car means to disabled people. It’s all very well for them to say not everyone needs the mobility component of DLA now because public transport has improved (NOTE: It HASN’T!) but they are totally missing the point that when we get in our cars that’s the ‘alone time’ that a lot of us crave because we spend so much time with other people who assist us with our day-to-day needs. The precious time each day when we get to be ‘normal’ and transport ourselves from A to B like everyone else isn’t just functional, it’s good for our (my!) mental health. Had I not got out in my car yesterday, I would be in a terrible mood right now, feeling disempowered and small. As it is, I feel good. I was so exhilarated by taking myself off to DO something on my own yesterday that I found it really hard to sleep last night! 😀 Just knowing that there’s a car sitting on my drive that I can get into any time I feel I need some space is a priceless thing.
Other people relate to you in a totally different way when you can drive a car too – it says you’ve got a certain amount of ‘nouse’ to have learned to drive in the first place and they’re far less likely to speak to you VERY…SLOOOWLY IN A VERY LOUD VOICE!
Being able to grab your car keys and say ‘I’m outta here!’ does wonders for your personal relationships too! Trust me when I say getting in your car and getting a change of scenery when ‘cabin fever’ looms is very different to politely excusing yourself and shutting your office/bedroom door on your co-habitants – that’s just relocating to a different part of the cabin! When I came home from my drive I noticed I was relating to my parents in a very different but subtle way – had gone off, re-discovered my own boundaries and inner workings as an individual and returned as a whole and separate person. The way in which that simple process of taking your own space gives you a sense of inner stability that affects the way you relate to others that is really quite uncanny.
If you are a disabled person reading this blog and you’ve never considered driving, then please do! There’s an amazing array of adaptations available these days which mean that very few disabled people are precluded from driving these days. Find your local assessment centre and pay them a visit – you’ve nothing to lose!
When I first started driving at 18 I was a pretty damn fearless adventurer and would go all over the place, and I want to re-awaken that adventurer in me! So, I’m now looking for a Sat Nav. I kind of enjoy getting ‘lost’ but I’d also quite like to know how far I am from civilisation (and a disabled toilet!). I’m currently looking at THIS ONE and I’d love your feedback if you currently use this model.
So, all in all it was a pretty great weekend and I’ll be off out again next weekend (if not sooner, it depends on the weather) and this time I’ll be sure to stop and take some photos so I can share my journeys with you.