It’s a three-word question that is heard in a variety of situations, often at specific moments during the summer: “Is it roadworthy?”

Sometimes it’s a question asked when a family is sitting at the kitchen table planning a vacation that requires going by car from one place to another. The planning may start with asking a rather specific question about the old family wagon: “Is it roadworthy?”

Sometimes it’s a question that a parent asks when a daughter or son has been saving up their money and thinks they have found their perfect first car. Peering down at a smartphone screen—where the picture yields absolutely no useful information about the tires, the safety inspection, or whether it even has seatbelts—and trying to say something that doesn’t sound like a judgment of quality, the default question is pretty much, “Well, is it roadworthy?

Or maybe it’s a road trip to shuttle the little car that has served long and well through college and grad school and will now be daily transport for a new job—but only if makes it from one side of the country to another. The old college roomies decide to turn it into a great cross country adventure—a plan that is nearly scuttled by a mutual friend with the good sense (and courage) to ask the question no one else has the gumption to bring up: “Yeah, but it is ROADWORTHY?”

And while that actual question may not come up at your table or in your conversation this summer, isn’t it great that we have people in our lives who ask questions like it? “Is that a good decision? Are you taking a risk you can’t afford? Is that really what you want to do with your time/money/life?

Roadworthiness is important for our cars—that they are safe to drive, that they are reliable and start in the morning, that their tires have sufficient tread to grip the road. Keeping a car running well takes persistent attention and care.

Being a “roadworthy” person takes work, too. To take care of ourselves. To avoid risky behaviors. To have people whom we trust and who love us enough to ask us the important—and impertinent—questions.

Personal roadworthiness requires persistent attention and care, just like a good car. So many roads to take in life; so many journeys. And they all begin with a roadworthy self.