Thoughts on owning your power, even in your car.
Generally speaking, I’m a very nice person. I’m the kind of person that says hello to strangers. I’m the kind of person you ask for directions when you’re lost on the hiking trail. I always leave a big tip. I’m the one that stops and moves turtles out of the road.
I was driving in my neighborhood recently and noticed a woman who had stopped on the road and was getting out to move a turtle. I was grateful because that would have been me if I had shown up before her. As she took a towel and wrapped the wanderer up and was moving toward the nearby grassy knoll, I rolled down my window, and in a fit of encouragement, I shouted, “YOU ROCK!”
She looked at me like I was possessed.
I was just being nice.
But, then there are other times, when I’m driving, that not only am I not nice, I morph into the Wicked Witch of the West. Well, Southwest. I don’t know what possesses me. Maybe it was the fact that I learned to drive growing up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. If you don’t drive aggressively there, you’re dead. Like, dead, dead.
You see that lane you’re trying to get into? YOU TAKE THAT LANE! YOU OWN THAT LANE. NO ONE’S GONNA LET YOU OVER. YOU GO SPEEDRACER.
My mom still lives in the area and she gave up driving years ago. I recall this one ramp we would have to take on our way back from my grandparent’s house. She would get so worked up over this one exit where you had to merge onto a 22-lane interstate. (That may be hyperbole.) But it was big. And fast. And you better make sure you enter the interstate traveling 80 mph because there’s no merging lane and basically you’re screwed if some guy in an 18-wheeler, wearing a trucker cap that reads “Get on the Wiggle Wagon”, doesn’t take immediate pity on you and move his ass over.
She would have us kids peer out the window as we merged from the left lane and “let her know if it was clear”. Let’s just say if you’re 8, you’re idea of what’s “clear” and what is “actually clear”, is likely two different things. But, the good news is, we didn’t die. The bad news is, it made me one aggressive drivin’ mofo.
When I moved to Ft. Myers, home of every retired person in America, there was quite the learning curve. And I would be nice, right up to the point where all I’m trying to do is get to point B, from point A.
Inevitably, here they would come, driving negative 2 mph. Sometimes, they would just stop. Not at a stoplight or stop sign, mind you. Just stop. In the road. The worst of the stopping was when you were taking the on-ramp to the interstate, while looking over your left shoulder to see how you needed to merge into the oncoming traffic, only to look back over in front of you and see red lights staring at you in the face right as you are picking up speed to merge.
For some reason, they felt it was best to just stop on the ramp. You know, because it’s scary and all. Apparently, they think their cars could go 0-75 mph in 10 feet.
This is how I taught my children some of my most choice curse words.
Now, living back in Texas, but in the more chill region of Austin, I find myself stuck behind people who are better than Ft. Myers, but still, not in any real hurry. This one particular road that I take to the grocery store always has someone who just wants to sightsee.
I’m not even asking anyone to speed. My neighborhood is a 30 mph zone and for good reason. There are copious amounts of deer in the neighborhood and they like to practice the art of lollygagging. Even if that means lollygagging into the road.
But, come on!!! You can’t even drive 30 mph? And that’s when my version of Mad Max comes out. And it makes me mad at myself.
WHY do I get so upset over people who refuse to drive the speed limit? My heart starts racing. My mouth starts flailing words that would make a sailor blush. My son sinks down in his seat to hide. And I do everything in my power to shame the person in front of me. It may be as simple as tailgating, a shameful head shake, or in the worst of cases, a middle finger.
And I eventually realized it’s the same problem I have, rearing its ugly head once again, just in another way. I have the great misfortune of believing I have power, where I have none.
No amount of intimidation will make the person in front of me drive faster. Or try harder. The only thing it will do is make me have a heart attack and be in a perpetual bad mood for the rest of the day.
I’ve been meditating. A lot. It’s helped me in a thousand different ways. (That may be hyperbole too, but it is helping.) I’ve been practicing the art of letting go when I find myself behind the snail folk. Why on God’s green earth would I want to hand my power over to said snail?
Why would I want to let someone else ruin my day? Obviously, I don’t want that. And I remind myself to control what I can and let go of the rest and that it applies to driving too. This is one of the great lessons of life, that I’m pretty certain every single one of my blog posts has really been about.
There are just things in life that you cannot control. And that’s ok. But you can control yourself and how you act and/or react. Don’t hand your peace of mind over to events outside of your world, and that includes your car.