As paradoxical as it may sound, I’m an environmentalist type who loves vintage cars. For me, a smooth running engine and an open road are a great catalyst for writing. You turn the key, (or in our case, you push the button on yer do-the-right-thing-already hybrid), and hear the motor humming oh so cleanly. The wires are connected in all the right places, and the computers in your techno-machine are sensing correctly, so away you go.
I get some of my best ideas while driving. I have BWD syndrome, aka brainstorming while driving. Sitting at the desk makes me feel catatonic, so I have to get my muse in motion. The treadmill works too, but it’s definitely not as fun as getting out of the house.
In writing, the beauty of seeing the parts of one’s life as functioning aspects of the whole is such a joy and the metaphor of going on the journey helps the author. It feels so good when it’s working. On our last little road trip, I realized that at age 60, there were things I just did not understand about my life-I thought I had gotten it, but there was a cog in the machine. I wasn’t able to understand some of the connections until the time was right.
The insight was about male authority. I love guys. They are so easy to understand, unless of course, the man is one’s father (or spouse) and he demands respect but doesn’t explain or even understand why he needs to be the ultimate boss. When I was a child all authority figures were men. My mother was traditionally passive. She smoked a lot. Many of my images are of her were sitting behind a wall of smoke. She was a thinker. But my father had the last word in the family. When we had family meetings, he was in charge. The president was a man (of course), God was a male archetype, and almost every authority was manly. The only female authority figures in my childhood were teachers and a grammar school principal. Career options included teaching, social work, nursing, and supportive roles.
Even though I resisted many of these dominant gender role issues, a man made me feel secure, could seem utterly ridiculous, and could be intimidating. I enjoy being female, I loved being a mom, but it took me forever to understand why I chose an emotional bully in my first long term relationship. He was 32, I was 19 when we met. Red flag there-or I was what some may call “buzzard bait.”
When I bought my first car at 21, husband number one backed out at the last minute in helping me make the transaction. So I went alone, puttering through the back streets of Oakland in a ’62 Ford Falcon that cost $350 and slipped out of second gear. Then I took an auto mechanics class and learned the basics. My first partner was helpful in repair, but not so good on dealing with authority or motivation. He always had some kind of fight going on.
I finally settled down with a man who was easy-going, kind and not overly critical. Twenty eight years later we are still together. And we name our cars. They are female. The Saturn Vue is Queen Latifah and the Toyota hybrid is Mrs. Roosevelt.
Men are great because they don’t like things to be too complicated. They like things to be dealt easily and they like working parts you know, knobs and things. They put the parts into the proper places, adjust, perfect, tweek, and connect. Woo-hoo. Why fix it if it ain’t broke?
But, I’m rambling. Time for a drive. Where will the Sunday drive take me today?
Journal prompt: What are some of your favorite analogies? What motivates you in life? Your impetus to write could be about imagination, love, angst, joy, pain, sorrow, challenges, triumph, and so on. Write about what you have overcome in your own life. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
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Copyright © 2013 writing & photography by Susan E. Rowland All rights reserved.