A mile well-driven

Updated Feb 6, 2012

I learned today the phrase “courage and passion for lives well-lived.” Learned by reading it in a book that was co-authored by a college classmate of mine.

Diane and I woke up this morning in our Florida vacation house where we plan to stay until mid-February. Today is the same as most other days we have spent here except on this Sunday we went to church in the morning and will be watching the Super Bowl game with neighbors later.

I recently reconnected via the internet with an old college classmate of mine and learned that he co-authored a book, Wide Awake: Three Minutes a Day to an Inspired Life by Kate Sholonski and David Larson. I remember him as a great guy in college and bought his book the day I learned of it. After college, I worked in a number of fields and finally grew up to become a truck driver. Dave grew up to become a psychologist.

Of course the jokes come to mind. If you had gone to him earlier, you would not be a truck driver today. How convenient, every truck driver should have a psychologist for a friend. Let’s leave the jokes alone and think about something more uplifting. Let’s think about a mile well-driven.

I have only started the book and did not even get through the front matter before the book put me deep in thought. In the acknowledgment section the authors “… bow to our clients, whose courage and passion for lives well-lived has [SIC] energized and enlivened our own journey toward fulfillment, joy and peace.”

That’s the kind of stuff you expect to hear from a couple of psychologists who have the luxury of being on a journey toward fulfillment, joy and peace. If you ask over-the-road truckers what kind of journey they are on, they would say something like: on the Buckeye toward Chicago, Albuquerque to Seattle, lettuce from California to Florida, oversize pulling 97,000 lbs. up Fancy Gap, pad wrap into Manhattan or finally home after three weeks out. You’d have to ask a million of them where they were headed before one might say “I am on a journey toward fulfillment, joy and peace.”

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But as I thought about it, it came to mind that the two journeys are not so different. And as I thought about it more, I realized that a trucker who seeks fulfillment, joy and peace, and happens to be behind the wheel, can be on both journeys in the same instant by doing nothing more than thinking, not about a life well-lived, but about a mile well-driven.

You don’t have to have something wrong with you to get in touch with what’s right. You don’t have to hire a psychologist to lead you out of a meaningless life. You don’t need a personal trainer or new-age guru to show you the way. You don’t need to buy self-help books. You don’t even need to pray to Jesus to ask him to change you into the person he wants you to be.

All you have to do is drive your truck; drive your truck and think about a mile well-driven.

Truckers are widely said by other truckers to be people who don’t agree on anything. But if you invited some into a room and asked them to describe a mile well-driven, I think most would agree on a list in short order. It’s not difficult to complete a mile well-driven. You simply do what good drivers do.

A mile well-driven would be completed by a driver who is wide awake in every sense. He or she would be alert and paying attention behind the wheel. The hazards would be identified well ahead. The truck being driven would be properly pre-tripped. All road signs would be read. All mirrors would be regularly scanned. Turn signals would be used with every lane change. Safe distances would be maintained.

The colors would be noticed, the sounds heard and the sights enjoyed. Satisfaction would be found in the knowledge that you and others on the road are safe because you are who you are. Pride would be felt because your shipper’s goods are secure and the people who will use them are being well served. Good feelings would rise because you are tuned in and at the top of your game.

A mile well-driven is completed by driving your truck moment by moment. A stress-filled moment in which a four-wheeler cuts you off and forces you to stomp on your brakes is bracketed by other moments in which positive energy flows. A brake-stomp moment is over as fast is it starts. In a mile well-driven, it’s not about that four-wheeler who cut you off. It’s about the mile well-driven. The good moments rule while the bad become simply part of the game.

Completing a mile-well driven requires you to bring your best self to the fore. The good news  â€” the very, very good news  â€” is that you don’t have to go any further than your driver’s seat to do this. All you have to do is make the mile you are on right now a mile well-driven. If you do that, a separate journey toward fulfillment, joy and peace won’t have to be taken, because that journey and a mile well-driven are one and the same.