Driving a Car at Night

driving at night“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” –E.L. Doctorow

As a writer, I can certainly appreciate this quotation. It would be SO daunting to write a novel. But I don’t write novels and the analogy really doesn’t apply to the picture books I do write.

What it does apply to, however, is life.

I use this quotation when talking to my kids about what the future holds for them. As young adults, they often think that any decision they make right now determines the path ahead of them forever – as though they’re picking a railroad track that, once on, they can’t get off. That’s not how it works, I tell them. It’s more like driving your car at night, the way revealing itself little by little as you progress. And there are lots of detours and side roads to take. Even your destination is unclear.

These days I’m finding that the quotation comes in handy for me. The kids are more or less raised and the map I once used has become much less relevant. I feel like I’m back to driving my car at night never seeing further than my headlights (though, in reality, my night vision is terrible and I avoid driving at night).

I’m not really sure where I’m going. But every day, as I drive, I’m getting there.

I want to make sure my journey has some kind of purpose or fulfillment. I don’t want to be driving in circles in the dark.

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