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my carMy commute to school is riddled with red lights and cross streets, and there are days when I have to make a decision at these intersections. Am I going to go to school or make a turn off the plotted course? On bright sunny days, Mt. Rainier sometimes beckons me, and I’ve wanted to make a turn, toss the text books and notes out the window and head for the hills. Instead, I stay the course, show up for class, and do the work.

That choice is about to pay off. In June, I will graduate with faculty honors from the University of Washington, Tacoma with a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BASW) at the sweet age of fifty-two.

This isn’t the end of the journey. My road goes on toward a Master’s, but this light has remained red for now. I applied to two programs and neither one accepted me. So, instead of going straight through this next intersection, I have to take an unexpected turn. I’m patiently waiting at this red light with my blinker on.

Life is full of these green and red lights, yellow lights of caution, unexpected turns and sometimes unsure destinations or uncertain routes. Twenty-five years ago, if someone would’ve told me my life story, I would’ve laughed. I was on the Marriage Expressway and Motherhood was the next exit. I didn’t think I needed an education then, as nice as an education would be, and I certainly wouldn’t be driving down that road in my fifties! Twenty-five years ago, when I pictured my life in my fifties, I saw myself on Bliss Road with a grandbaby or two. Peaceful Retirement would be on the horizon. There were lots of exits off that road, including Church Mission Circle.

But one unexpected bend led to another, and throughout the years, I found myself on Childless Trail, which is long and winding. Then, Larry and I took a sharp turn on Health Scare Hill Road before getting lost on Financial Mistake Boulevard. Now, we’re about as far as we can get from Peaceful Retirement Drive. Instead, we’re at the corner of Education and I Think I Have A Plan.

I may not have had a lot of choices around the roads I’ve driven or the terrain. But I do get to choose my attitude, which is the car I drive. How I get around is up to me, and I’ve discovered I like my SUV. It’s sturdy and steady. It can fit all kinds of passengers comfortably, and it can handle the terrain when the road gets rough.

The vehicle makes all the difference in this journey. That doesn’t mean it’s always in good shape. It can get really dirty after a particularly difficult stretch and sometimes the car breaks down. I get cranky, irritated and irritable. Sometimes I have a pity party because I feel picked on. But then, I fix that flat and keep going.

Some of us are blessed in that our lives have unfolded in every expected way. At the age we’re at, we’re on the road for which we’ve planned. For the rest of us, our choices may not be about the road we’re on, but about the vehicle we’re in. So, what do you drive?