No Rearview Mirrors: A Short Essay on Appreciating the Road Ahead

Take off the rearview mirrors and leave the past behind.

Posted Oct 01, 2011

We were on the last day of our recent cross-country motorcycle trip; trying to get to the Sioux Falls airport so I could catch a flight back to NYC. Running a bit late, of course we found ourselves behind a line of traffic on a tiny country road. One by one the cars passed around the slow driver. Finally we came up behind the impediment: a beat-up old pickup truck. All you could see from behind were two hands on the steering wheel, a tuft of white hair and next to that -- two pointy ears.

As we passed I had to laugh. The truck was being driven by a tiny little woman who was laughing and talking to her companion, a scruffy brown dog. But my laughter was not so much from the image of the driver and her passenger, but from something surprising about the truck itself: there were no rearview mirrors - only a few wires hanging out of the sides where apparently mirrors were once attached.

As I got on the plane and prepared for the onslaught of LaGuardia, I thought about this tiny little woman driving this beat-up old truck; how she was totally oblivious to the traffic turmoil behind; how her only focus was the joy of her companion beside her and the gifts of the road in front of her. It's not a bad lesson.

Given all the baggage we tend to carry around about the past, it made me wonder: How might our lives be different if we took off our rearview mirrors? What would happen if we stopped worrying about what has been and started enjoying what is here and now? Perhaps we might find a little joy like that woman in the truck. It wouldn't take that much effort. All we would need to do is forget what's behind us and focus on the road ahead.

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