The past, present, and future all combine when you teach your child to drive. Time winds down for a moment and your perspective becomes clear. This young person that you've loved so well and so long is crossing the threshold toward adulthood and independence, just as you did. It isn't difficult to remember being his age and taking that first step.
Of course, every education costs something, and this one is no exception. With speed and traffic and teenage enthusiasm involved, driving instruction is not for the faint of heart. In a sense, it's ironic. You've held this child's future safely in your hands for years, and now, as he takes to the road, he holds yours. (Although I am not Catholic, each time I get in the car with my kid, I want to cross myself.) Not only do I see my life flash before my eyes, but his as well. I see the little person who watched me wide-eyed in the hospital the first night we met, I see the fine, responsible boy he is now, and the man he will become.
On Sunday, my sixteen-year-old son and I drove an hour through the desert back roads to the town of Eureka. It isn't easy getting there. The drive can be down right scary with its winding curves through steep sage covered mountains. Yet, we survived with little more than a nervous twitch by my right eye. Eureka is an old place that time has left alone. There are abandoned, pioneer-era store fronts which have charming historic details despite the broken windows. A post office, several churches, two schools, and little else complete this tiny mining town. My son and I loved visiting.
I could make many comparisons between the trip to Eureka and writing. The journey to the end of a good story often has many unexpected twists and turns. We sometimes wonder as writers if it's even worth the effort. Long or short, that period of futility or doubt is forgotten when we crest the hill and arrive at our destination. Once the process of writing a book is over and we've done it well, the reward is always worth the price.
The dictionary defines the word Eureka as "a cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something valuable."
It's a good name, isn't it?