A Passport to Freedom

There is one piece of paper that I own that has given me more freedom and pleasure than probably any other inanimate object. It’s because of that one single sheet that the world as I knew it back in the seventies changed forever, and ensured my full-time employment and individual independence from then until now. It’s not much to look at, indeed, after owning it for just a few months I‘d taken it so much for granted. Its significance has gone largely unnoticed. One would be considered eccentric in the extreme if one were to surround it with a frame and hang it in the dining room for all to see. Yet today I value it more than any educational qualification or professional acknowledgement. Indeed, its very existence is proof alone that I have the capacity for learning. No degree from any university on the planet could replace it and in today’s world its right up there with family, home, friends, oxygen, food and water. In my world it would make life immensely difficult to live without that one piece of paper. Throughout the world, once presented, it becomes a declaration of my competence: my reliability. My identity becomes clearly defined to strangers. It declares to all that I can be trusted to do the right thing in some of the most arduous or dangerous situations. I did wonder when writing this if I was overstating or exaggerating the case for my little sheet of paper. An extreme case of ‘Gilding the lily’ perhaps. Then I thought ‘No’. I’m just stating a long forgotten fact. Owning one of these documents or even the modern equivalent carries with it immense personal and civic responsibility. One has to have an awareness of the greater good which includes the welfare of all the adults and children that may surround any one of us at any given time. So why would any sane person who is charged with the responsibility of carrying such an amazing deed of trust drink excessive amounts of alcohol then get behind the wheel of a car? Why would they speed at 40 past a school full of children? Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly no angel when it comes to my driving history and in my younger days took as many risks on the roads as anyone else. It’s simply that my observations have become more acute as our roads have become busier and busier over the years. For example I used to enjoy motorway driving, almost with a passion, but now as I drive with trepidation down the slip road onto the M1 I can feel my grip tightening on the steering wheel as my mind reverts to survival mode. I breathe a sigh of relief as I indicate to come off the motorway: even some dual carriageways. My special piece of paper: my old green driving licence expires in fourteen years time when I’ll need to apply for a new one. Time flies when you’re having fun!


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