My best friend of nearly a decade visited me this past week. He lives in Mississippi and though we try to have face-to-face visits as frequently as possible, life gets in the way sometimes and we most often end up on a Facetime call. Thank you, twenty-first century.
On the final evening of his visit, we were reminiscing on the first vehicles we owned; his family’s well-loved white pickup that he dubbed, “Greta”, and my long since gone old car “Gertrude” that I bought about nine months after getting a job immediately following my 16th birthday.
He smiled as he joked about my driving, saying, “Like a bat out of hell. As soon as that gear is shifted, you are gone.” With a small group of us, it appeared that he was not the only one in agreement on that thought. Someone else piped up, “She still drives like that.” And honestly, we all had a good laugh about it.
A following morning, I came across something online that read, “Casual does not work for me. When I love, it is fierce. It is my soul. It is all I have, and everything I know.” There was no one listed for the quote, or I would give credit in a heartbeat. I did not write that, but goodness I wish I had because I felt it in my bones, and it clicked.
I love the same way I drive. Not so much like a “bat out of hell” anymore, but still very much with my foot on the gas. I set my sights, and there I go. I will not even pretend like I am in complete control of it all the time. There have been moments where I have felt like I am trying to stop the bullet train that is my heart, but there are not really any brake lines to love, are there? We just hold on and go.
My grandmother used to joke that speed limits or stop signs were merely “suggestions.” Obviously, this is not true. But it makes me smile a little more when I put it all into this hypothetical perspective. My heart does not know what speed limits or stop signs are. There was no written test or six-month permit for this. Not for me, or anyone.
And so, we love, because that is what we do. It does not have to be romantic, but it can be. Your heart can make the pedal meet the floorboard when your best friend has a bad day, and little is on your mind aside from making it better. You would do whatever you had to just to make them smile. It can be when you meet someone new and suddenly, you could not stop yourself from falling even if you wanted to. It can be random acts of kindness for people you may never see again.
When learning to drive an actual vehicle, I was told by my Driver’s Ed teacher that we had to learn to be both offensive and defensive drivers. “Take your opportunities as they arise but guard yourself against the crazies who don’t care who they hurt.” I promise he was talking about driving, but that reads so much differently to me now. Coach P, you were right, because some of these people are reckless.
The world will never make it easy to have a good heart. You will be beaten down, pushed aside, dismissed, belittled, lied to, or any assortment of things. It will leave marks, but they will heal. I do not mind that there have been in a few accidents, maybe a lot more than a few. That is a risk I have always known comes along with the ride. I do not plan to leave this world with anything less than scrapes, scratches and scars covering my heart. You should not either. Those bumps and bruises serve as a reminder that despite whatever happened, we chose the best parts of ourselves still to give. Love like a “bat out of hell” is sometimes what the world needs.
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