Eddie! Or is it Eddy?

I wish I could say that I had fallen in love with some guy named Eddie.  The only Eddie I know is Eddie Haskell from Leave it to Beaver, and all I really remember about him is his annoying high pitched and grating voice.  A real whiner.  No, here I am referring to the eddy, those spots in a river that, on a long paddle, you look for to catch your breath. At least that is what I remember about canoeing.  My hope was for a calm eddy around the corner so I could get out of the current and take a breather.  Well, this memory of the benevolence of the eddy is being challenged and I am currently having quite a different experience.

For nearly 9 months I have dedicated my life to learning to live in the flow.  To live from a much more aware and intentional place in myself. To give my mind a vacation.  It has been both challenging and magical.  My most valuable compass has become practicing the art of navigating life from the heart, the intuition and that “gut feeling”.  Yet in this practice my heart is always accompanied by my mind trying to get control of the process and of the unknowing. My mind believes it can figure anything out and that it will make me feel better in the face of uncertainty.

So, the river of life I live in right now is moving at a speed that my little boat is having some difficulty navigating.  My mind just wanted to “eddie out” and consider my options.

My home base for the better part of a year has been a room in my daughters apartment in Asheville North Carolina, where a few of my things and my cats live when I am not here.  She and I have busted the illusion that mothers and daughters cannot co-habitate as adults and it has been a great time.  But, the lease is up here and Jessie is leaving for the Virgin Islands on her adventure and I am packing my few things, my cats and heading….hmmm….well that’s not clear.

I have many options but no one of them turns that inner light of knowing on or makes me feel inspired and certain.  Every choice that comes up on the radar sounds great:  More time with Film School in Seattle, going to the coastal town of Point Roberts and writing, Findhorn in Scotland, setting down some roots here in Asheville, creating community with new friends.  All these ideas of what is next for me seem great from my mind’s point of view, but my heart is quiet. I have lost my compass.

So, I did the most familiar thing I could do in the face of packing boxes and moving out in  five days from now.  Yep 5 days.  I decided to let my mind take over and make a solution.  Big mistake.  My lack of patience to wait for the answer kicked in my most primitive response.  Just figure it out.  You can do it Maya.  Just get that pad of paper and get those pro’s and con’s down and it will be clear what you should do next.  Big, very big mistake.  It was at this moment I began to eddy out of the river of my inspired life and discovered that an eddy if far more complicated than I had remembered.

An eddy is a place in a river where the water is “moving in a different direction or different speed” than the main current. Eddies are made by rocks in the river, outcroppings along the side, behind logs, bridge pilings, and also on the inside of bends or along the side of the river.  An “eddy line” is the part of the river that separates an eddy from the main current. Eddy lines can range from gentle changes of current, to violent, whirl-pool-causing obstacles. The speed, volume, and motion of the current will decide what type of eddy line is formed.

The eddy that was created, the moment my mind jumped into the front seat of my life was nothing short of a violent whirlpool of thinking.  I began to chew on every detail of why this and not that.  My pros and cons list graduated to a full sized dry erase board in my living room where I could move around all the factors in my life like on a chess board.  This process of “figuring it all out” became exhausting and took me just deeper down the rabbit hole of indecision.  All the while I am being churned around in the washing machine of my own thoughts, the river is just moving past me in it’s predictable and constant flow and always going somewhere.  In the end, I made myself sleepless, anxious and stuck.  I had forgotten my compass.

Right when I hit my breaking point I stumbled on a post on Facebook.  There was a black and white cartoon of a man in the darkness without a flashlight.  All you could see were his blinking eyes.  That was me!  The quote went something like this: “They say when one door closes, another door opens.  But these hallways are a bitch!”.  I was in the dark corridor between leaving something and beginning something and I did not like it.

So, with a week before I had to fill a car full of cats and belongings, find storage for my few other things and go to AAA to get a new set of maps and trip books, I came to a grinding halt in my process of efforting to discern the right thing to do.  I just stopped thinking. I gave up trying. What a relief.  My little boat broke loose of all the debris and obstacles that the mind had created and just silently drifted back into the rushing current of uncertainty.  I was allowing myself to simply not know.  Chop wood, carry water was for me “pack one box at a time” and not know where it was going.  Sleep returned and anxiety stopped. I allowed the vast knowing universe back into my process.

And I now spend time every day reminding myself of the joy of the journey, even if I do not know the destination.  And that is the key.  Letting go of the destination.

When most of us take trips we have a map or a tour guide.  Without the map we do what?  We drive down the road and if we get lost we ask directions (or at least I do).  But like most I had become dependent on knowing where I am going and getting the map out when I felt lost.  The map shows you what is ahead, when to turn, the distance and the constructions zones to avoid, all in the service of me getting from point A to point B.  I have a point A but no point B.  I wanted a map and my mind was going to make one. But in reality that is delusional.  How can anyone get a map from point A to nowhere?  This process of needing to know and have a destination stripped me of the very things I have been learning:  That I do not always know what is next and if I allow that unknowing to just “be” then, without exception, something breaks into my life that is new and magical.  My heart and my intuition know that but my mind had forgotten.

I had forced myself out of the flow of my own knowing and put myself purposefully into a place that was “moving in a different direction or different speed” than the main current.  Why?  Because I was afraid to not know.  I was afraid to make the “wrong” decision.  I was simply uncomfortable in limbo and unwilling to live with the discomfort. Fears were my “eddie line” separated me from the main current of life.

So, you might be waiting to hear what I have finally discovered that I will do come May 29th.  Me too!  I still have no idea.  I rededicated myself to the path that this entire year is about for me and I am waiting for the direction to emerge.  I am waiting and floating on the river with my heart as the rudder.  And until that feeling of joy and inspiration floods my very being, I am packing one box at a time, I am getting my oil changed, I am putting out requests, I am meditating on the very vision of why I am on this road in the first place:  To discover what makes me happy.  So stay tuned for the next chapter.

Possessions, Possess Us

“Complete possession is proved only by giving.  All you are unable to give away, possesses you.” –Andre Gide

My last Post was about Mother’s day.  I appreciate all the responses I have received about your own experiences and your requests for some of the other writing I have done.  I was asked to be in a book called This I Believe: On Motherhood which you can find on Amazon.com and I included a chapter called Visitor at the Table.  This is a great group of writers that speak as daughters, mothers, grandmothers on every issue relating to mothers.  A great gift for Mother’s Day.

As I looked through the hundred or more writings I did while living with my mother, another theme rose up:  Stuff.  Not the inner stuff of families but the outer stuff.  The selling of houses and the dividing and selling of things.  What to do with a lifetime of accumulating when a parent dies?  What to do with Grandmothers clock, the tea sets, the clothes never thrown away since the 1960’s, balls of rubber bands, Tupperware for every occasion and even ones I could not think about.  The attic.  The basement filled with stuff.

I am sure one of two things motivate most of us when it comes to what we choose to accumulate.  First we think, ( the operative word is THINK) we need it.  Or we FEEL we need it.  Thinking we need something is our practical self telling us that we should have it because it will make life better, and we believe what the infomercial is telling us.  QVC is great at getting us to buy something that only minutes before we did not really want or know exists, and too many people at 3am will forego paying their phone bill that month to get a knock-off handbag.   But the most powerful reason we buy is how we feel about something.  It will make us look younger, feel better, get approval or give us status.  We all do it.

And then there is the  throw away – hoarding – attachment problems.  “We will need it someday or it was owned by someone we love”, drives us to be pack rats.  And sentimentality does have it’s place but most of us keep things and never use them, see them or even remember we have them, simply because we cannot give it away.  And that being said I am not a proponent for throwing anything away.  The conversation of Giving Things To People Who Need Them is one for another writing.  As is Recycling and our responsibility to do that.

And as I am now packing once again to leave Asheville to wander my way across the United States (with a chauffeur), I am faced with one more clearing of my life.  Although I sold most of what I owned last year to become the Gypsy writing this blog, I can still ask the same questions of what I have left, and in doing so there is still more to give away, sell and leave behind.  I want my load in life to be light.

 So, here is a little on how to start thinking differently about our attachment to things.  Very creative, practical and innovative.  These groups pose some wonderful questions that all of us should ask ourselves. The most important question being “Why am I not doing this and when will I start?”.  If you hem and haw ask yourself what you are afraid of, why you drag your feet or what causes you to move away from the idea?  And then once you have read the ideas go get a pencil and paper and write down the “10 Things I cannot live without“…everything else can be given away.  That’s my motto.

And I am asking those of you who would like to have your list of 10 things published, with or without your name, to send it to me with a sentence on each item as to why you chose that thing as essential to your life.  Send it to mayachristobel@gmail.com, please.

Blessings, Maya

 

7 Ways to Have More by Owning Less

–by Maria Popova,  Aug 11, 2011

Stuff. We all accumulate it and eventually form all kinds of emotional attachments to it. (Arguably, because the marketing machine of the 20th century has conditioned us to do so.) But digital platforms and cloud-based tools are making it increasingly easy to have all the things we want without actually owning them. Because, as Wired founder and notable futurist Kevin Kelly once put it, “access is better than ownership.” Here are seven services that help shrink your carbon footprint, lighten your economic load and generally liberate you from the shackles of stuff through the power of sharing.

NEIGHBORGOODS

The age of keeping up with the Jonses is over. The time of linking up with them has begun. NeighborGoods is a new platform that allows you to do just that, allowing you to borrow and lend from and to your neighbors rather than buying new stuff. (Remind us please, what happened to that fancy blender you bought and used only twice?) From lawnmowers to bikes to DVD’s, the LA-based startup dubs itself “the Craigslist for borrowing,” allowing you to both save and earn money.

Transparent user ratings, transaction histories and privacy controls make the sharing process simple and safe, while automated calendars and reminders ensure the safe return of loaned items.

Give NeighborGoods a shot by creating a sharing group for your apartment building, campus, office, or reading group — both your wallet and your social life will thank you.

UPDATE: Per the co-founder’s kind comment below, we should clarify that NeighborGoods also allows you to import your Twitter and Facebook friends from the get-go, so you have an instant group to share with.

SNAPGOODS

Similarly to Neighborgoods, SnapGoods allows you to rent, borrow and lend within your community. SnapGoods takes things step further by expanding the notion of “community” not only to your local group — neighborhood, office or apartment building — but to your social graph across the web’s trusted corners. The site features full Facebook and Meetup integration, extending your social circle to the cloud.

You can browse the goods people in your area are lending or take a look at what they need and lend a hand (or a sewing machine, as may be the case) if you’ve got the goods.

LANDSHARE

Growing one’s own produce is every hipster-urbanite’s pipe dream. But the trouble with it is that you have to actually have a place to grow it. And while a pot of cherry tomatoes on in your fire escape is better than nothing, it’s hardly anything. Enter Landshare, a simple yet brilliant platform for connecting aspiring growers with landowners who have the space but don’t use it.

Though currently only available in the U.K., we do hope to see Landshare itself, or at least the concept behind it, spread worldwide soon.

SWAPTREE

swaptree is a simple yet brilliant platform for swapping your media possessions — from books to DVD’s to vinyl — once they’ve run its course in your life as you hunt for the next great thing. Since we first covered swaptree nearly three years ago, the site has facilitated some 1.6 million swaps, saving its users an estimated $10.3 million while reducing their collective carbon footprint by 9.3 million tons.

Inspired by the founders’ moms, whose lunch dates with girlfriends turned into book-swap clubs, swaptree makes sure that the only thing between you and the latest season of 24 is the price of postage.

GIFTFLOW

Most of us are familiar with the concept of regifting. (No disrespect, but the disconnect between good friends and good taste is sometimes astounding.) Luckily, GiftFlow allows you to swap gifts you don’t want for ones other people don’t want but you do. The platform is based on a system of karmic reputation, where your profile shows all you’ve given and taken, building an implicit system of trust through transparency.

So go ahead, grandma. Hit us with your latest sweet but misguided gift. Chances are, there’s someone out there who’d kill for that kitschy music box.

ZIPCAR

We’re big proponents of bikesharing but, to this point, the concept has failed to transcend local implementations. While some cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Denver are fortunate enough to have thriving bikesharing programs, we’re yet to see a single service available across different locations. Until then, we’d have to settle for the next best sharing-based transportation solution: Zipcar, a 24/7, on-demand carsharing service that gives its members flexible access to thousands of cars across the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Zipcar has been around for quite some time years and most people are already familiar with it, so we won’t overelaborate, but suffice it to say the service is the most promising solution to reducing both traffic congestion and pollution in cities without reducing the actual number of drivers.

SHARE SOME SUGAR

Lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor. More than an Outkast lyric line, this is the inspiration behind share some sugar — a celebration of neighborliness through the sharing of goods and resources. Much like SnapGoods and NeighborGoods, the service lets you borrow, rent and share stuff within your neighborhood or group of friends

* * *

For more on the culture of shared resources, do watch Rachel Botsman’s excellent TEDxSyndney talk. Her forthcoming book, What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, hits bookstores in two weeks and is an absolute must-read.

UPDATE: Botsman’s book, What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, is now out and landed promptly on our best books in business, life and mind shortlist for 2010.

This article is reprinted with permission of Maria Popova. She is a cultural curator and curious mind at large, who also writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and Design Observer, and is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings.

Surprised by Life

I have been on the road for six months now.  And most of those Road Trips taken were without being able to drive my car.  My legal rights to a driver’s license buried in some endless bureaucracy.  At first, I felt like the inability to legally drive would become a boulder sitting right in the middle of my life and block my deep intentions to follow the flow of where the river would take me.  For a month or more I reacted and resisted this interruption in my perceived plan.  Once the likelihood of driving wherever my heart led, was challenged, I relaxed into the “interruption” and began to relate to it as a gift.  “What might this unwanted experience provide for me that I could not have known or perceived without it?”  And the answer was: “Surprise?”  The answer was,”The unexpected”.

What I am coming to understand is that MY “plans” are only one possible future.  And my attachment to the outcome of those plans can limit my life.  If I could have driven, my two week stay with my daughter with an intention to drive North to Maine would have me leaving Asheville.  But, because I had to pause for a moment, breath, let go of my attachment to any outcome, I stumbled into my own desire to create a website while waiting for what I thought would be a few weeks before the debacle of my driver’s license was behind me.

I interviewed two people for the job and hired one.   Mary Long brought love, joy and creativity to my creating a clearer identity and I hired her.  Richard Gannaway was equally as gifted, but somehow in our interview we never truly discussed my budding website, but fell into a mutual love for music, for his work as a composer, singer and musician with AO Music.  Richard sent me home that day with his newest album and my life changed forever.

The music did what music only can.  It opened a part of me long-buried and reminded me of a part of myself that had forgotten a core inspiration in my life which lead me to aligning my self with AO Music and it’s care for changing hearts and helping children.  My life ignited. If I had driven away as planned I would have missed Joy breaking into my life.

 “The Law of Attraction is responding to your thought, not to your current reality. When you change the thought, your reality must follow suit. If things are going well for you, then focusing upon what is happening now will cause the well-being to continue, but if there are things happening now that are not pleasing, you must find a way of taking your attention away from those unwanted things. You have the ability to quickly change your patterns of thought, and eventually… your life experience.”  Abraham

I stayed much longer in Asheville than had been planned.  I had time to sit inside of my own dreaming, my own inspiration and my deepest wants and desires and could not “drive away from them”.  The minute I claimed these hopes and dreams my energy changed, my happiness increased and as the law of attraction is trying to teach us, suddenly and immediately people, ideas, opportunities and gifts that MATCHED those dreams and inspirations began to flood into my life. I was offered the chance to write a screenplay and then to attend The Film School in Seattle.

Tom Skerritt, The Film School

I did not chase my dreams in my car. I couldn’t.  I did not make a ten point list of goals for the year to tick off one by one. I waited, I practiced deep self inquiry and I listened to promptings that had been drowned out by my assumptions about my life and what I should be doing.  And in return, the Universe was given room and space to spill into my life with opportunity that I could not have seen.

Since “having my wings clipped”, so to speak by unforeseen circumstances, I have found that in fact, I do not need a car.  That I do not need to spend all that money and gas for something that I have done just fine without.  I can stop polluting the planet.  I can create a slower pace instead of knowing that my car is right outside my front door so I can dash anywhere.  That has been another surprise.  The cost of a periodic taxi, taking the bus when I am in an urban area, being a passenger with a friend who I get a chance to chat with, and generally limiting how many places I need to be in a day has slowed me down to a rhythm that I am liking. That is healthier and more centering.

I have spent time on the ocean in Washington with Icelandic Ponies, I have lived in a hotel for a month while going to The Film School here is Seattle, I have aligned my life and heart with a cause to open the heart through music. I am nearly done with the first draft of the screenplay I have been asked to write.  And my website reflects the constant unfolding of me as I move toward being the most authentic expression of myself.  And come the end of May, one year after the death of my mother, my daughter, who I have been staying with in Asheville will be moving.  The lease is up.  And the question that comes back round is:  What’s next.  Where will my next stop be?  I cannot wait to be surprised!

I was directed in a scene by Tom Skerritt as the infamous “Mrs. Robinson” from the movie The Graduate.  Acting is NOT my forte so I will stick to being a writer!

I posted today an update on my trek to get a driver’s license in this country.  Then a friend sent me what was a front page article in USA Today on not being able to get a drivers license and the new ID Act.  This article is not just about me, it is about all of us and our country and enlightens me to why I am up against a brick wall.  Please read and pass it on.  It affects all of us.  Maya

Real ID Act blocks some Americans from driver’s

licenses

By Oren Dorell, USA TODAY

Strict federal rules aimed at keeping terrorists off planes are blocking some Americans from renewing their driver’s licenses or getting other state-issued IDs.

  • Charles Lust, 46, of West Palm Beach, Fla., found out his name was changed without his knowledge when he tried to renew his driver's license in February 2010.By Eliot J. Schechter, for USA TODAYCharles Lust, 46, of West Palm Beach, Fla., found out his name was changed without his knowledge when he tried to renew his driver’s license in February 2010.

By Eliot J. Schechter, for USA TODAY

Charles Lust, 46, of West Palm Beach, Fla., found out his name was changed without his knowledge when he tried to renew his driver’s license in February 2010.

The consequences can be staggering. Without an ID, people cannot change jobs, drive legally, collect Social Security or Medicare, get through airport security or open a bank account.

It’s “a persistent problem across the country,” says Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.

The problems stem from the Real ID Act, passed by Congress in 2006 in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when terrorists used easily obtained driver’s licenses to carry out their plans.

The law says that by 2013, only IDs from states that require applicants to present proof of citizenship or legal residency will be accepted to board an airplane or enter a federal building. In most states that have begun to comply, that proof means a birth certificate or immigration papers.

The ACLU and others predicted that the law’s documentation requirements would be a burden to many Americans, and the issue becomes more pressing as the deadline nears.

Sometimes birth certificates are incomplete, inaccurate, missing or were never recorded.

When corrections officer Charles Lust, 46, of West Palm Beach, Fla., tried to renew his driver’s license in February 2010, he was shocked to discover his birth certificate said his name was Bell. A court, establishing paternity when he was 14, changed his name from Lust, his mother’s name, to Bell, his father’s name.

After his driver’s license expired, he couldn’t open a bank account, cash a check or change jobs. He had to make special arrangements to pick up his kids from school because the school requires ID.

“It kind of put my life on hold,” Lust says. He finally got his license in September after the Florida governor’s office granted an exception.

Bonnie Cohen, a paralegal at the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County who helped Lust, says her office has handled more than a dozen similar cases this year, most of them elderly minorities born in rural parts of Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Their records were lost or damaged in natural disasters, birth certificates were never issued or they were issued with errors, and some people were raised under a different name than what’s on the birth certificate.

Sixteen states have passed laws opposing compliance with Real ID, according to theNational Conference of State Legislatures. The Department of Homeland Security, acknowledging that the law’s documentation requirements are burdensome and cause privacy concerns, has several times delayed the deadline for states to comply.

The National Governors Association calls the Real ID Act “unworkable” in its current form. The National Conference of State Legislatures has lobbied for its repeal.

Repeal “is not going to happen,” says Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who authored the law and chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

Proving a person’s identity without a valid birth certificate can mean digging up alternate documentation, such as school records, going to court for a name change and sometimes fingerprinting to avoid fraud, says Monica Vigues-Pitan, advocacy director at Legal Services of Greater Miami. She has had 15 cases this year.

Bonnie Sarkar of Colorado Legal Services has helped 20 clients obtain IDs this year and has 10 cases pending, most of them involving elderly and poor people. “Elderly people often have this weird sense of shame about it because they don’t want people to know,” she says.

Tom Theisen of the Legal Aid Society of San Diego has a homeless client in poor health who has a Texas birth certificate and school records from the 1940s, but he cannot remember his Social Security number. He’s stuck in a Catch-22: California law requires a Social Security number to issue an ID, and the Social Security Administration requires a state-issued picture ID before disclosing the number. That means the man cannot claim Medicare, cannot get health care and is unable to collect $845 a month due him from Social Security.

“I understand the concern about undocumented people in this country,” Theisen says. “I think there’s been an overreaction.”

Punch Lines!!

Traffic sign alerting drivers for Amish Buggie...

Image via Wikipedia

As the Saga unfolds I have heard from many some amazing ideas for the punchline to the Joke…”What is a Gypsy without a car?”  (See post for Oct. 17th)  I wanted to include some of what has been sent to me for all our consideration.  Thanks to everyone for your support and humor.

1.      “What does a gypsy without a car do? Hitchhike.”
2.      “What do you call a gypsy without a car? Homeless”
3        “Have you ever considered being an outlaw gypsy and just driving anyway?”
4.       “What’s a gypsy without a car”–someone who is discovering the joys of cycling, walking and/or being chauffeured.
5.        “Have you looked into an Amish carriage (surely one doesn’t need a license to drive a buggy…?) and have you traveled by train lately???  My family and I used to take the train between southern California and Louisiana at least twice
each year…always an adventure, always so enlightening.

A Gypsy Joke

One of my friends and I were staring at each other in bewilderment over a steaming cup of tea while sitting in a nearby cafe as she burst out laughing. “Ok, there is a joke in this!”, She said. “What is a gypsy without a car?”.  We both howled.

So, what IS a gypsy without a car in our 21st century?  Well, I am finding out the myriad of answers to that odd question since at this moment the Universe has orchestrated a challenge for me of not having a valid drivers license which does curtail ones travel plans.

Let me back up briefly.  Gypsies are nomadic and mobile at heart.  They need to pack up and relocate or wander at any given moment and carry with them simple and transportable belongings.   They need to be ready to go the direction the wind is calling.

In another century, if someone came into a Gypsy camp and said, “Well, we are not only taking your gypsy wagons away from you, but we are taking your horses too!”, I think there would have been a mild uprising at the very least.  So, in this moment of history, not having a driver’s license, when everything I have packed for travel is in my car is, at the very least, is just a tad inconvenient.

In short, here is how it happened and much like Julie, in the movie “Julie and Julia” who had to confess to her public when one of her recipes simply failed or she could not dress a proper chicken, there is a twinge of embarrassment.  But, it is just part of the journey.  My oddly difficult driver’s license renewal sage to date goes like this:

I moved my few things to North Carolina.  I needed a new drivers license.  I stood in lines forever.  I was first asked if I wanted to donate vital organs after a car crash and then they checked whether I do in fact have hazel eyes and am 5’5”, which I had to correct since it seems as I am shrinking and am now 5’4”.  And then they asked a question that 10 years ago I was not asked:  “What is your social security number?”  Happily I gave it to them.  Instantly, they said I could not have a driver’s license since somehow my name on my social security card did not match my current license.  Really?  Can you explain that please?

So, I started on the road to OZ, winding my way through what has become the most convoluted justice system I could ever have imagined.  First, there were small-minded people who did not know answers and did not know who had the answers and then I got lost down the rabbit hole of our Social Security system.  I didn’t think I was going to get out of the building alive and for a split second I thought I was on this year’s new TV series The Walking Dead.

The glitch seems to be one that no one in either civil or national governing positions has the answer to solving.  It was even suggested that I just become 16 years young again and start over….after 40 years of driving…and take a written driving test and then a physical driving test so I could get my PERMIT and drive with some “responsible” 21 year old in the car of choice.  So while I was in Colorado, the state my last official driver’s license was from, I did just that.

I went to get in line to be given the written test.  I picked a number and the ocean of difference between the number I was given and the number flashing on the wall was….three hours worth of unhappy people.  I sat.  I waited.  And then I thought I could go shopping for the next two hours and not sit here.  So, I stepped outside.  Across the street I saw “A-1 Driving School”.

I went in and shared my plight and they said that they gave written drivers tests and I could take one with them for $20.  Then I could take it back over to the DMV and get in the front of the line.  That was a no brainer.  But, the wonderful woman took one look at me and asked me when the last time I took a test was, sensing that I might be just a wee bit behind on knowing driving laws or information, which of course, every pimply faced new driver has to know.  Like is it a right or a privilege or an honor to drive a car?  Now that is certainly debatable in my mind.

I was seated in an empty drivers education classroom right next to the woman’s eight-year-old daughter doing homework on her laptop and…5 rescue dogs.  Fabulous dogs, each suffering from some unadoptable malady; One leg, one eye, too old, no fur.  They were precious and each sat at my feet while I discovered what I was up against on the test.  By the third question I was in trouble.  When was the last time I even thought that I needed to treat a motorcyclist who is merging onto the interstate from an on-ramp any differently than any other moving vehicle?

I flunked.  The woman was sad for me.

She said I could take the test again and mentioned some cautions and some of the new air bag regulations that she whispered in my ear just before going back in the room with the dogs.  By the third question I was in trouble again.  So, I broke out my secret weapon, my pendulum, just in case the testing rule of “when in doubt it is always choice “C”, did not seem just right.

So, here I am with a child asking me if I had ever driven a car before since I so obviously knew nothing about driving, with the one-legged pointer named Brownie licking my toes through my sandals and me knowing that they might be calling my number over at the DMV and I would loose my place in line.  I stared at the last question.  “How many feet back from the crosswalk at a stop sign do you need to stop your car with or without any people in it?”  Ugh!

I did not flunk.  I thanked the pendulum, grabbed my test that had “passed” on it and ran back to get to the front of the line at the DMV.  Same questions about my organs, but looking good again and then the assistants face dropped.  “It seems you need to deal with the Social Security problem you have miss.  May I suggest you get a lawyer?”   Sigh.  I felt like Brownie the one legged dog.

I drove back to my friend’s house in her car, certain that every cop on the road knew who I was and would then be throwing me in the Poky.

So, I am now back in Asheville, looking online for a good Social Security lawyer and allowing my 28-year-old daughter to chauffeur me, which I must admit, is not so bad really.  But, what is the lesson here?  Lessons abound every day, but THE BIG LESSON is forming itself over time.  I have had ample opportunity to practice a new kind of patience, with a bureaucratic process that is like holding a difficult yoga posture with people who don’t like their jobs and are short, befuddled and down right rude.  I imagine I will be Gandhi by the end of this legal process.

I get to practice being happy while standing in line for hours only to be told I need slightly different paperwork and a new set of fingerprints since I could be a uni-bomber. I close my eyes often while in the waiting places and find gratitude that I was not in the salon when the angry father shot and killed eight people this week, but simply acknowledge that I am only waiting for the “privilege” to drive a car in the United States.  Then the entire process becomes easy.

But, I have learned the most about patience and understanding with myself.  Self love in the midst of floods of thoughts about how I could have known this before or done a dozen things differently.  I become happy for the simple truth that I do my best and sometimes there are surprises in life that give me the opportunity to align just a little more with the truth of who I am…with or without a driver’s license…with or without a car.

I am certain this will be solved by Christmas and I will have the choice to be back on the road.  I now have the creative opportunity to drive with friends, maybe find a traveling companion who wants to explore my next stops with me, stay put and write, which is a great idea or fly where I need to go, which is most likely not going to be my choice.  I know that whatever changes I need to make to accommodate this tiny inconvenience will be part of the flow too and will lead to something I had not expected; a new friend, or a surprise that could not have happened unless I had had this little bump in my road.

So, I will let you know my creative solutions as the story unfolds. And I will share the punch line to “What does a Gypsy do without a car?”  Any ideas?