Learning. That never ending sometimes joyful, sometimes grueling sidekick to our daily life. In the province of British Columbia (farthest province to the west in Canada for those of you unfamiliar with the region), we have a staggered licensing system for new drivers. New drivers begin the learning process by taking a written test. Once passed, they receive a red magnetic “L” to be placed on the rear of the vehicle they are driving. The “L” licensed driver must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver at all times. This process allows them to gain both confidence and knowledge with regards to driving.
There are of course many rules and regulations that go with this coveted “L”. Drivers begin to navigate their way through learning how to control a vehicle in a safe and somewhat restrictive manner. Once a driver has held an “L” license for some time, they are permitted to take a driving test to obtain their green “N” car magnet. The green “N” allows the driver to operate a vehicle without a fully licensed driver in the passenger seat. Different restrictions exist for “N” drivers. A limit of one person who is not a relative is permitted to ride with an “N” driver. Again, this is another step in gaining confidence.
In preparation for testing for the “N”, some new drivers choose to take drivers ed which is a classroom and real road driving learning environment. Others negotiate with their parents to take them to the local parking lot on Sunday mornings. Either way, the goal is clear. Spend time getting to know the environment of a vehicle from the new perspective of being behind the wheel.
Finally, after another significant amount of time has passed, “N” drivers are permitted to take yet another test. This test is a driving road test that will allow them to receive their class 5 license. The class 5 license is the permit most adults have that allows them to drive a regular vehicle. Once passed, the driver is permitted to drive without the “N” and without restrictions placed upon them.
So, here is the thing. When we see a red “L” or a green “N”, as drivers, we take extra caution. We give them a little more leeway. We have more patience with their learning process. In general, we have an understanding that new drivers may require more time to process their thoughts and actions as they learn how to operate a vehicle.
Why is it then on a lifelong journey of learning, we are so quickly to judge, anger, or respond negatively when another person is taking their time, processing the steps, and impacting our own immediate path? The answer is clear. There is no red “L” or green “N” to remind us that each of us are on our own journey through life. We are often so immersed in our own lives that we can become impatient with others immersed in theirs.
Life has a way of throwing us curve balls. Nobody goes through life unscathed. Though we may all differ in how we deal with the curve ball, we are all learning none-the-less. No matter where you are along the path of life, try to remember that we are all wearing our own invisible version of the red “L” or the green “N”. I believe if we are simply aware of each other’s learning, we will automatically become more patient and kind with one another.
Perhaps embracing the default state of understanding that each of us is learning in our own way and in our own time is the perspective we need in order to support and appreciate one another more fully.