"When you get out of the driver’s seat, you find that life can drive itself, that actually life has always been driving itself. When you get out of the driver’s seat, it can drive itself so much easier—it can flow in ways you never imagined. Life becomes almost magical. The illusion of the 'me' is no longer in the way. Life begins to flow, and you never know where it will take you."
My boyfriend sent me this quote from Adyashanti’s book End of Your World the other day. He’d sent it before, shortly after we met, and both times, I found it very beautiful in the moment. But, as so often happens, life got in the way of me taking the time to examine it, to truly understand it or to appreciate its beauty; its truth and wisdom. I was consumed with staying in the driver’s seat—determining which way to turn, what speed to go, when to honk and when to put the pedal to the medal. As is often the case, there were to-do lists to check off, clients to see, time to waste in the most productive of ways. But I found myself—in those moments which seem to be too few and far between—finding some quiet in my mind and body and reflecting.
“When you get out of the driver’s seat, you find that life can drive itself, that actually life has always been driving itself.”
What a concept. How much different would it feel if we let go a bit?
“There is a new way of operating, and it is not really about making this decision or that decision, the right decision or the wrong decision. It is more like navigating a flow. You feel where events are moving, and you feel for the right thing to do. It’s like a river that knows which way to turn around a rock—to the left or to the right. It’s an intuitive and innate sense of knowing.”
On face value, this idea scares the shit out of me. Not making decisions? Not being in the driver’s seat? Not being in control? I’ve worked long and hard to ensure that I control my life. I tell my clients: the only thing you control is yourself; how you handle your emotions; how you choose to react. In fact, right now this is written in at the top of my whiteboard: ‘you are in control.’
I believe that life opens windows of opportunity, but it’s on us to do the work so we can notice those open windows and be ready to crawl through them. So, at first it was hard to reconcile that instead of preparing, choosing, driving my life, sometimes I need to just let go.
But the more little reflective moments I had, the more I turned this quote over and over in my mind—felt the edges; studied the words; imagined my life as a river, twisting and turning and myself floating down it, the only work needed being a slight paddle to keep myself heading in the right direction or to avoid an obstacle—the more and more this resonated with me.
After all, getting out of the driver’s seat doesn’t mean getting out of the car entirely. It doesn’t mean you’re no longer along for the ride. It simply means making space – for opportunities, experiences, people and places you run the risk of passing if you stay in the driver’s seat, driving the same road you’ve always imagined, taking the same route to and from work, avoiding traffic and skipping the scenic route.
And then I think about my life, especially in the last few years. Life has become almost magical, even despite some major twists and turns and deviations from my planned course. In fact, I would say the most profound events in my life, which have opened me up to fulfilling opportunities and relationships—coaching, moving, connecting—all happened when I wasn’t in the driver’s seat.
It may seem counterintuitive for a coach to be advocating this sort of letting go—not of negative emotions or grief or fear, but of the illusion of “me". As someone who aims to help others live the life they want to lead, it may seem strange that I’m telling you to hop out of the driver’s seat. But I am. And as Adyashanti explains, here’s why:
“This kind of flow is always available to us, but most of us are too lost in the complexities of our thinking to feel that there’s a simple and natural flow to life. But underneath the turmoil of thought and emotion, and underneath the grasping of the personal will, there is indeed a flow. There is a simple movement of life.”
Most of us are too lost in the complexities of our thinking. How often do we agonize over every decision, doubt our gut, ignore red flags or let someone else’s expectations determine our direction? All that clutter—that noise—it muffles the connection we have to our heart and our gut. Could tuning out that clutter allow us to tune into that internal sense of knowing? That flow that guides us to exactly where we need to be?
Call this flow your intuition, a gut feeling, spiritual guidance, the universe, God, whatever. But I invite you to feel it. Stop – if even just for a moment—and feel it. Stop thinking so much and go with what you’re feeling. [And I’m not talking about what feels good momentarily, but what you also know is wrong. I’m talking about tapping into that deep, deep sense of knowing. Following those butterflies in your chest, listening to the knot in your stomach.] The chances are, the more you turn the volume down on those busy thoughts ‘is this right?’ ‘what should I do?’ ‘how do I make this happen?’ and begin to make the choices that feel like the right choice—you’ll end up somewhere pretty magical. Why not give it a try?