What I Have Learned from Being a Passenger

Being a vegan traveller means being a passenger for a great chunk of that time while on the road. However, in the last six months I have succumbed to the law of the land here in my hometown of Melbourne. I have also been a passenger in my everyday life.

I am a proud, fully-fledged driver’s license-carrying vegan traveller who can travel wherever she wants, whenever she wants. Six months ago, I was struck down after having a seizure which meant I was legally forbidden to drive for six months. I have had to re-juggle my life around so I can be driven to work and yoga (not to mention embarking on weekend roadtrips) by my husband or navigating public transport to where I need to go. I am on the cusp of being legally allowed to drive again, and the last week has made me think about the concept of being a passenger.

Looking out the window means looking within for gratitude

I am not one that takes help lightly. I’m fiercely independent and the thought of anyone helping me brings up feelings of dread. I don’t like to rely on people for help! When you’re forced into a state of being assisted, you have no other choice than to ease into the help. Looking out the window over the suburbs around my home on the way to work each morning meant that I was looking at my immediate world in a new way. I took more notice of the trees lining the main roads, people rushing on their way to work, the flow of the traffic, the stop-start of peak-hour traffic jams, climatic weather conditions and that inner sense of gradual ease. Gratitude has come in the form of being forever thankful to family members who are committed to getting me to work on time. Gratitude means easing into the discomfort that may sometimes challenge us, especially during those times when you have no control over a situation. This is the essence of travel in general. Travel is unpredictable, and travel is unassuming. By being a passenger means getting into the flow of the surrounds and timelines that may not necessarily be the norm in our everyday lives.

Taking alternative transport means connecting with community

In the last six months, I’ve been taking public transport at those times I can’t be driven by someone else. I love public transport, but when you have to take it when you need to – when your daily life depends on it – then you start looking at it in another realm of consciousness. You learn more about those who dedicate their work to driving buses, or trains and trams. You start supporting their work through the routes you take and create a demand for the routes they drive. You begin to become aware of who takes the same route with you, along with their strengths and weaknesses. Those weaknesses are sometimes of the addictive nature, as you spot the same people using bus terminals as a place to drink and drug. You hear the stories between commuters of other lives lived, of the issues some people experience, and those top-layer bantering sessions between students coming home from school or millennials going shopping. Driving is a solitude process that can sometimes detach you from your community.

Privilege shouldn’t be taken for granted

I write this post in the week of International Women’s Day and I am reminded that my ability to drive means a few things. I am privileged to have been born in a country where it’s acceptable – and legal – for women to drive a car and hold a driver’s license. I am privileged to be allowed to leave my house and drive my car whenever I want, without having to rely on a male family member to escort me. I am privileged to work so that I can earn money to pay for my driving expenses. When I think about it, six months spent not being allowed to drive isn’t a huge deal in the whole scheme of things. While I have not been able to drive, I have been able to maintain my right to be independent in my own self; even if that self is a little stubborn and resistant at times.

So, have you been in a situation where you have been a passenger? What lessons did you learn as a result of being a passenger? I’d love to read your travel stories of being a passenger in the world; either in your own country or overseas.  Share your stories in the comments below.

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