Thursday , May 30 2024
Not a driver’s ed manual, but a thoughtful and inspirational look at life lessons.

Book Review: ‘Driving Lessons for Life’ by Jim R. Jacobs

Driving Lessons for Life by Jim R. JacobsDriving Lessons for Life is not a driver’s ed manual, although maybe it should be. It’s actually a thoughtful and inspirational look at life lessons, using driving and car metaphors to illustrate its message. Jim R. Jacobs handles his subject with surprising deftness, taking a situation we might experience on the road and teaching us how that experience can benefit us in other areas of our lives. The reason why this book is miles ahead of most other self-help books is because the lessons stay with us rather than being easily forgotten. Jim achieves that because as he points out, most of us drive every day, so whenever we get behind the wheel, the lessons we learn in these pages will be reinforced by the act of driving.

Every chapter of Driving Lessons for Life is filled with common sense. Because the stories illustrate insightful and helpful driving instructions, such as how to pick the right lane to be in, why not to give others the finger, and why you should remember that a car is just a car, this book would be a perfect gift to give any teenage driver when he or she receives a driver’s license or permit. Trust me, its lessons are far more memorable and just as important as any your teenager will learn in driver’s ed class.

But this book also teaches lessons that seasoned drivers will appreciate. As we read, we will find ourselves laughing with Jim — and at ourselves. After all, we have all been lost in traffic, been frustrated when we are running late and a slow driver gets in our way, and been annoyed by a backseat driver. But we’ll also appreciate how Jim turns around many of these situations to teach us life lessons — yes, even when he gives us advice on why we should appreciate those backseat drivers.

While some of these stories are very poignant, especially a couple that concern car accidents, they are also packed with humor. My favorite chapter had to be “Learning to Laugh Through Life,” in which Jim tells two hilarious stories about his great-aunt Frannie’s carwash mishap and his grandmother’s purchase of a special rear view mirror. Trust me, the laughs you’ll get from these two stories alone are worth the price of this book.

Sometimes while reading, you’ll also pause to think about things you may have ceased wondering about or scarcely noticed have changed. For example, Jim ponders why we rarely see kids with lemonade stands anymore. Since reading this book, I have followed his good advice and bought lemonade twice when I have seen such stands, taking to heart his point that:

“. . . the real joy comes when we encourage the person who is selling the lemonade. When we stop what we are doing and really get connected with people, we really start to experience something joyful. We feel connected, we feel moved, and we feel changed. When we really see the people behind the lemonade stands, and we reach out and encourage them, life takes on new pleasures and meaning. It is the people we need to see. We don’t stop at lemonade stands because we need lemonade. We stop because we need each other.”

Another situation that seems more and more infrequent is stopping to help people when their cars are stranded on the road. People don’t stop anymore because everyone assumes everyone else has a cellphone. (I know from personal experience they don’t because I had to wave someone down to help me not long ago when I was stranded without a phone, and I was so grateful when the driver of about the hundredth car did stop and help.) Whether or not people need help, it never hurts to ask whether they do, as Jim points out. Furthermore, the person who stops receives the practice of offering help and the good feeling of doing so. Jim concludes his chapter on this topic by pointing out to us: “Next time you see someone stranded somewhere on the road of life, don’t worry about whether he or she needs your help. Tell yourself you need to offer the help.”

In the end, Driving Lessons for Life not only teaches the rules of the road, but the rules we need to live by. Most of us know these rules, but just as we can get lazy about using our blinker or checking our oil, so we can get lazy about living our life so it benefits others, and even forgetting to get the most mileage we can out of our own lives so we have the best joyride possible. Jim gives us unforgettable reminders we badly need.

I encourage everyone to read Driving Lessons for Life. Trust me, not only will this book make you a safer and more knowledgeable driver, but you’ll find a lot more joy in life’s journey.

For more information about Jim R. Jacobs and Driving Lessons for Life, visit the author’s website.

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About Tyler Tichelaar