While cruising at 70 mph in the right lane of a three-lane highway, I was recently forced to swerve onto the shoulder by a driver in the adjacent lane. Without a signal, the driver suddenly began to move into my lane without the space to safely do so. Because he was navigating a newer model Mercedes, my guess is that a blind spot alarm warned him of my presence and he quickly veered back into his own space. No harm done. But since then, I have been thinking about the blind spot and how it leaves us vulnerable.
Of course my reflections about the incident have very little to do with cars or traffic (although I am grateful that no accident occurred). What I am thinking about is the idea of changing lanes; not lanes on a highway, but life lanes that take us from one point to another as we age. Every person’s journey is different. But all of us, no doubt, have been affected by something we never saw coming. These things were in our blind spot. And when they impact us, we are often left shaken or even broken in some way. Wouldn’t it be nice if our lives came with an alarm like the one on that Mercedes?
Some might argue (and to some extent I would agree), that in many instances we could have forecast potential misfortune, or disappointment, or hurt in our lives (especially when it comes to relationships) if we had been paying just a little more attention. More intuitive people, for example, are able to sense things that “just aren’t right.” And in many cases, a retrospective look at a situation allows us to see the indicators that were there all along. I guess the question really becomes about whether the things in our blind spots were really invisible to us, or if we just ignored them, made excuses for them, or hoped they would somehow disappear.
To take the point even further, do we allow people we love to live inside our blind spots? In other words, do we give those people a pass on words or behaviors that potentially damage our own sense of self? Do we overlook traits or qualities that are less than desirable because of our own needs for safety or security? And if so, how good are we really being to ourselves?
Conversely, how might the people we love serve as a kind of blind spot alarm for us? Like a blind spot detection system in a car, those closest to us are sometimes able to see things for us that we just can’t. If a blind spot in a vehicle is described as “an area that cannot be directly observed by the driver while at the controls, under existing circumstances,” it makes sense that blind spots in our lives may work the same way. While we are busy being in control, the existing circumstance does not allow us to see potential harm. We are often blind to our own shortcomings or insecurities, or too focused on maintaining our cruising speed to reach a destination. Those in the car with us are often just able to see the things we can’t. As for the ones who bravely point us back toward safety? They are the people you want in the car – for the duration of your journey.