My sixteen-year-old car has been in the shop for the last week and a half undergoing major (and expensive!) repairs, so I've been driving a loaner car from the dealership in the meantime.
The opportunity to drive a newer car with an automatic transmission (after decades of driving manual transmission cars) has been a treat, even as I've had to adjust to finding controls and information in new places and in newfangled ways.
But the most amazing thing about driving this loaner car has been the view. There's something about the size and configuration of the windows and mirrors relative to my size and position in the driver's seat that makes it possible for me to see a much wider range of the road ahead, to the side, and behind me as I drive.
I've never driven a car in my life (my own or any other) that provided such a clear and unobstructed view, and discovering that it's actually possible to see this well has been a revelation!
My short height is no longer a detriment to my ability to see, and I'm getting a glimpse of what taller drivers must be able to see all the time when they are driving. It's pretty amazing! I'm seeing the world around me (and understanding what is possible) in whole new ways each time I'm on the road.
Expanding our view
We've all experienced moments like this when our view of what is possible gets expanded by some new experience or insight. Limits that we've always taken for granted as unchangeable are suddenly shown to be ones that we are imposing on ourselves.
Much like the case with my car, this usually only happens when our regular, everyday life has broken down in some way, and we are thrown into a new landscape (sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently) that forces us to navigate our lives in new ways.
Sometimes these new insights are a direct result of our experience. We may discover that we are more resilient or stronger or more courageous than we ever dreamed we could be as we are forced to employ skills that have been buried in our depths.
Other times, these new insights are more indirect. Perhaps the experience of a major loss unsettles our world enough that is rips away our usual blinders and we see with startling clarity just how interconnected everything is.
Either way, these moments of expanded vision of what is possible and what is true about ourselves and our world unalterably change us, if we let them.
The short-term discomfort of expanded vision
When I get my car back and surrender the loaner car (hopefully later today!), I will go back to driving with a more limited view from the driver's seat. In this case, purchasing a new car with this wider view is not an option given my budget constraints (especially after the cost of these repairs - ouch!).
But my understanding of what is possible is now forever shifted. When the day does come that I must buy a new car (and my budget hopes that day is still a long way off), I will know that it is possible to find a car that allows me to see better than what I am used to as I am driving and that will factor strongly into my future car choice.
Likewise, our expanded vision of what is possible for us in life may not be something that we can immediately implement in the moment of our new awareness. There are often times when we must take steps to move toward the changes we envision.
And yet, that expanded vision has still changed us and our perceptions of our options. We can no longer comfortably fit back into the world we left behind because we are now aware that it is too limiting for what we know can be and that knowledge will continue to prod and push us into growth, however much we resist it.
Living into an expanded life
That expanded vision and the growth that results from it often become the gold fills the cracks in our lives as those broken places offer us room to expand our vision and ourselves.
It's easy to discount these new insights in the moment they happen—especially when we can't immediately make the changes we now see are possible. When our lives are feeling broken apart by forces outside of our control, it's tempting to want to recreate our old lives as we knew them to feel safe and secure again.
Our new knowledge is like a small rock in an old, once comfortable shoe, however. It won't let us painlessly settle back into what was, and sooner or later we find ourselves upending our worlds anyway.
I can't count the number of times when I've tried to bury some insight I've had of a bigger world available and go back to how things were—only to find myself tearing apart my reconstructed world in (often more painful) ways a short time later because I could no longer tolerate the life I had once found so comfortable.
Learning to watch for those moments of expanded vision and actively using them to create a new life out of the rubble of the old one makes the transition from brokenness to gold much easier and less damaging.
Questions to ponder
What experiences have you had that have expanded your vision of what is possible for your life? How did you react to those moments of expanded vision?
In those times when you have tried to suppress your new knowledge, how did that work out for you? Did the expanded vision disappear?
How have times of brokenness or upheaval in your life led to expanded views of yourself or your life? What growth has come out of those insights?
What gold is now present in your life that is a result of insights gained through the experience of difficult times?
How might you choose to react to moments of expanded vision of what is possible in the future as you consider this?