I hate driving in overcast weather. Between the shadows and the increased pressure, it’s never a fun experience. But today was exceptionally bad. I could barely stand being behind the wheel. So it got me thinking: am I doing this car seat thing all wrong?

And then I really got to thinking. New parents obsess over putting their babies and toddlers into car seats properly. There are precise angles and locations for the seat belt, the seat, the baby, etc. If you get it wrong, the mistake can be costly. But it can be just as costly to sit improperly as a driver or passenger too.

I realized that though I could correctly install a car seat for a small child—thanks to my niece and nephew—I had no idea how I should be sitting in my car seat. Or anyone’s for that matter. So I did what I do and I took to Google.

Thanks to these videos, I made micro-adjustments to my headrest, my side view mirrors, my rear view mirror, the angle of my seat, the location of my seat, the height of my steering wheel, the angle of my steering wheel, and how I sat. I changed everything.

And it was no longer a surprise why I was a wriggly worm every time I tried to drive. My headrest was too high, my side view mirrors were tucked in too much, my rear view mirror was too low, my seat was angled too far back, my seat was too far from the pedals (and I already sat pretty darn close), and my steering wheel was both too far forward and angled too far down.

Sitting parked on the side of the road, I felt great. But as soon as I began driving, I was completely disoriented. I thought I was going to throw up the entire time. For a minute, I entertained putting everything back to the (way more comfortable) wrong way. But when I saw the other drivers around me hunched over their steering wheels, white-knuckled making left turns I knew I couldn’t keep doing the wrong thing just because it felt better. So I kept going.

Disoriented as I was, I was also more in control. My car felt speedier and lighter—too light at times, the wind was blowing me off-center every chance it got. Pushed back against the seat as I should be, I was conscious of how often I’d displace my weight on the steering wheel. And so I wondered if I even liked the experience of driving as much as I thought I did—considering the level of tension I had behind the wheel—or if I just liked the freedom that my car represented. This body/soul/life scan continued along with the drive.

I realized that forcing my body into one position for x-amount of time was a constant dance between tension and release. My body kept trying to regain control. It did not like being at the whim of the road. When the car would dip on the left, my body pushed toward the right side. When I would break, instead of succumbing to the change in G-forces, my body fought to stay where it wanted to stay. When I would switch my right foot between pedals, my left side would angle backward to maintain its oddly centered balance.

When I felt my right shoulder blade repeatedly pulling toward the steering wheel, fighting against the cradling effect of the car seat, I wondered how many times a day my body does this little dance. How often I roll my shoulders back and down and yank them back up toward my ears. How often I tighten my hips and ease them back down into the chair. How often my lower jaw clamps toward my upper jaw and steadily relaxes.

It was exhausting to notice how exhausting it is to try to maintain control. So I instead focused on this story and tried, as best I could, to let my body succumb to the movement of the road, for once fighting my ability to fight for control, and release.


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