Driving in Reverse

Driving in Reverse

How is your driving these days? Not the car, or truck but your diabetic driving. How is that going? Have you stopped your diabetic drive and wondered where it is going? I know sometimes when I have examined my diabetic driving I have found I was driving in reverse. You know what I mean by driving in reverse? That is you feel burned out, overwhelmed, overtaxed, fed up with the whole mess.

There is a terrific story and metaphor about driving in reverse. It comes to us from the author Sherman Alexie, and was first expressed in his book “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven”. This book of interconnected short stories was later sort of made into a movie titled “Smoke Signals”. The stories are about a young man ‘Victor Joseph’ who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation, who is a bit of a nerd and his best friend ‘Thomas Builds a Fire’. They encounter a host of characters, and adventures which tell a sort of interweaved story. Neither the book nor the movie is tightly wound and that leaves much room for the reader, or movie watcher to dig in and find their own truths. I read the book perhaps 15 years ago and saw the movie when it was in the theater in 1999. Needless to say I really enjoyed them.

One of my favorite characters, among many in the book is Simon. Simon lives on the reservation and he has a passion for winning contests. At the First Annual All-Indian Horseshoe Pitch and Barbecue, Simon won: the double ringer horseshoe tournament, the storytelling contest, coyote contest by telling the assembled crowd that basketball is the new tribal religion and the jump shot contest by hitting a jump shot from 100 years out. Simon also drives his car only in reverse.

Now it is explained that Simon is a very careful driver, he obeys all traffic regulations, never exceeds the speed limit, is courteous to other drivers and also is available to give rides to his friends. But as I said he only drives in reverse. He uses the mirror to watch for oncoming traffic and is often found zooming along tribal roads traveling the posted limit of 40, 50 or 55 MPH just backwards. As if somehow moving backwards is his forward.

In the movie this trait is transferred to two young women, who own a car that only drives in reverse. In the book Simon’s car will apparently drive forward, he just prefers to go in reverse. In the movie the car will only go in reverse, and the young women do not have the money to get the car fixed. Either way it is the same metaphor with a slightly different connotation. Simon of course refuses to drive forward in the future, the young women restricted by poverty and circumstance cannot move forward.

In both cases Thomas Builds a Fire and Victor Joseph have to go somewhere for an appointment. They debate what to do since neither have a car and no one will offer a ride. So they choose to ask our reverse driver(s) for a lift, which they happily provide. In both cases our main characters are attempting to leave the reservation for one reason or another. Each time they must first go backwards in order to move forward to their new adventure.

The trouble with diabetes, is that we tend to get stuck going backwards and we never seem to turn around and go forward. It is something we must guard against. How do we do that? As many of us know it is personal. But it is a personal decision, responsibility, or obligation that we have to ourselves, and our families. After all if we get stuck only move backwards, or if we freeze and stand still we will no doubt perish. I froze for a long time in place. And I missed carb counting, insulin pumps and new types of insulin among other innovations. Standing still nearly wrecked my car, and the more I stood still the more I literally moved backwards.

It is said that sharks must move forward to survive. There is no standing still and of course for a shark no backwards. We humans have a choice, we can move forward, standstill, or get in our broken car and move backwards.

I challenge you not to let your diabetic car be broken, keep it in good repair and keep moving forward. Learn new things, be a new learner, yeah many things don’t work, but for the one or two that do, we get to move forward. There is nothing as positive as moving forward. After all moving forward gives us a chance to improve. Join with this community and move forward. The world is full of possibilities.



Great blog rick, I really enjoyed reading it. I too moved in reverse or stood still for a very long time. Joining here and continuing to constantly learn new things has helped me keep my "car", my life, and now my bike moving forward.


Outstanding. Great blog, Rick.

Loved reading your story. You have such a way with words, and your make a very good point. We all have times when we drive in reverse, or even get out of the car entirely. Very good post