Life — Riding a Bumpy Road (310)


The most important tool that you have at your disposal is your brain. Sounds obvious, sure, but a very useful function that a lot of people forget is its capacity to think and reflect. We learn why we didn’t do well on a test, reflecting our past choices and determining a better set of choices that can be made in the future. We learn why people act a certain way in specific situations, and learn what to expect and how to act accordingly.

But, even with this reflection, people don’t often look at themselves and wonder why they think a certain way, or how their personality came to be what it is. It is crucial to look at who we are, because that’s where so much growth comes from.

Imagine you’re driving along a road late one night, and it is extremely bumpy. The bumps in the road make for an unpleasant ride, and it leaves you frustrated. “If only this road could have been paved properly!” you lament. Your drive would be so pleasant if these bumps weren’t making your life miserable.

One day, you have enough of these bumps, so you stop to rest. While you’re taking this break, you get out of the car to examine these bumps. Maybe they’re more common on one side of the road, and careful driving can avoid it. But as you inspect the pavement, you find that there are no bumps to speak of.

Looking back to your car, you realize that one of the tires has a bubble on it: a pocket of air that makes the tire not quite circular. It’s not the road that’s leading to an unpleasant ride, but the car itself!

I’m pretty proud of this analogy, because it can be extended pretty far. Bubbles in tires can be caused by damage relating to some sort of impact: a pothole or something that caused a high amount of pressure. You can take this to be a high stress event in your life that changed your personality. The bubble isn’t necessarily noticeable until you’re looking at the tire.

Continuing down this path, many people driving on this same road wouldn’t have the same bumps. You can talk to other people about your problems, but they tell you “the road isn’t bumpy! Stop whining!” In this circumstance, both people are right. The road isn’t bumpy, but that doesn’t mean you’re making your life complicated just because: you have a legitimate problem.

So, once you find out that it’s the car that is the problem, what do you do? Maybe you’re the sort of person that always carries a spare (though in all honesty I don’t know how that part of the metaphor translates.) More likely, however, you’ll have to go to greater lengths to solve the problem. You’ll have to find a way to replace the tire, because tire bubbles can be quite dangerous! Ignoring the problem could only make it worse, and the whole tire may give out on you.

That’s as far as the metaphor goes, I’m afraid. I don’t know how to fix a tire bubble in your life. In fact, I’m looking at one on my own car. But, once you spot it, you can know that it’s not life trying to hold you down, but specific circumstances around you. You may not know how to change the tire and solve your problem, but identifying the problem immediately makes you that much safer.

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