The Italian Driving Method of Personal Growth

Did you ever see the 1970’s super-cheesey movie, Gumball Rally? Alright, I admit I probably watched it about 20 times back then. It was fun, when I was ten.

Well, for some strange reason, a scene from that movie popped into my head the other day. (This might give you some insight into my state of mind!)

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of seeing this cinematic tour de force, The Gumball Rally is an illegal New York to LA car race with absolutely no rules. The winner, in addition to all the glory, gets to take home the coveted Gumball Machine! And I’m sure you can imagine the creative sorts of mischief that the drivers get up to as they attempt to arrive before everyone else at that finish line.

The scene that popped into my head takes place at the beginning of the movie and the starting line of the race. It’s our first introduction to the driver of team Ferrari, Raul Julia, who is sitting in his Ferrari convertible with his co-pilot, a much less experienced, and if my memory serves me, non-Italian, driver. Raul turns to him and says:

“And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving…” Here he reaches up, rips off the rear-view mirror and tosses it, with much Italian flare, out of the car. “…What’s-a behind me is of no importance. ”

Now certainly don’t recommend that you rip the rear view mirrors off of your car and start driving around with that attitude. However, when it comes to personal growth, I think this rule has some validity.

There is an approach to personal growth that goes something like this: “Until I uncover all of my past wounds and heal each and every one of them, I will never be happy, fulfilled and abundant in my present life.”

This attitude is rarely that explicit, and it’s almost never conscious. But there are many people (and I speak from my own personal experience as well as my observations of others) who, on some level, believe they can not have a great life until they have “handled” all of their past wounds. They seek answers to the questions: “Why am I the way I am now?” “Why do I always act this why?” “What happened to me?” “Who did this to me?”

That approach to personal growth has the potential to suck us down the rabbit hole into a never-ending search for the “cause” of what is “wrong” with us. We can end up traveling back in time to heal our past more often than we spend rooted in the present, focused on creating a better life now! At that point, our journeys into the past are not longer about finding answers that can help us improve the present. Those journeys become a way of avoiding the work that will create the positive changes in our lives.

And that’s never a good thing!

Here’s something I’ve discovered, something those voices don’t tell you when they’re suggesting that you take another journey into your past to find another wound to heal. You ready?

Balancing a bit of Raul Julia’s attitude can often create a more healthy relationship with the past and lead to a better life now and into the future.

I’m not suggesting that you completely throw away the rear view mirror when it comes to looking at your past. I don’t think that’s even possible. But maybe spending a bit less time looking in that rear view mirror would be helpful.

Certainly there is a lot that we can learn from exploring our past, including (and perhaps especially) the painful parts. But if we are to truly grow, the information we discover must be used to empower positive change in the present. In other words, we must act in the present on what we learn from the past.

So the next time you find yourself heading down memory lane, before you go there, remember the young, suave Raul Julia, sitting in his Ferrari and repeat these words: “What’s-a behind me is of no importance!”

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    7 Responses to “The Italian Driving Method of Personal Growth”

    1. driving course on February 20th, 2008 2:40 am

      Thank you… I was telling someone about that scene which I too remember from my childhood but could not for the life of me remember which movie it was from. Now, I’ve been able to point them in the right direction.

    2. Jennifer Mannion on February 20th, 2008 8:25 am

      Hey Ed, So TRUE! Nice to reflect on the past for lessons learned or for how it helped you become who you are. Dwelling there does not usually help with forward growth. LOVE the quote and I see Raul Julia saying it as I read it. Thanks for another great post that made me smile. Gratefully, Jenny

    3. Ria Kennedy on February 20th, 2008 10:25 am

      First you have to get to a point where you realize nothing you do now can change anything from before. Once you make that realization, you can accept responsibility for moving forward now and learn to make the best of things in-spite of past trauma — and get rid of that rear view mirror once and for all!

    4. Edward Mills on February 20th, 2008 5:32 pm

      Hey Driving Course. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has random scenes from 30-year old cheesy movies popping into my head! 😉

      Jenny. You’re very welcome!

      Ria. Great point although it can be difficult to reach. I know it’s been hard for me to find that space of allowing the past to be. Thinking of Raul ripping the mirror off the windshield seems to help!

    5. Ria Kennedy on February 20th, 2008 6:22 pm

      LOL — I’ll remember the image.

    6. julia on February 27th, 2008 10:17 pm

      wow, you’re bringing back memories of hanging out with Raul Julia at the Mondran Hotel in Hollywood while he was working on ‘The Rookie’. He was one charming wonderful man. He more than anyone else would not hesitate to tell you that intuition is the key to a successful and happy life. He was one of the most Intuitive people I have ever met – and the most fun!

    7. Edward Mills on February 29th, 2008 9:41 pm

      Julia. Wow. Very cool. I’ll bet you’ve got some great stories!

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