Friday, June 21, 2013

Slow it down

With the first day of summer, holding with it the longest daylight minutes of the entire year, it's appropriate I talk about taking some time to slow down.

On our way back from Ohio two weekends ago, we got tangled up in some -as NASCAR fans call it- debris on the racetrack. Going 75+ mph, us and a few other vehicles encountered the shambles of an entire semi-truck's wheel assembly all across the highway. Thankfully our car only suffered a blown tire, the other vehicles involved had it worse. A roadside tire change later (and assisting another car with the same) we were back on the path towards home, thankful for our VeeDub full size spare.

Full size or not, the recommended top speed for those spare tires and wheels is 55 mph. No one follows those actual suggested speed warnings, myself included, but I did take it easy the rest of the drive home. I took Alli to work the next day so I could get the tire replaced while she was working. Unfortunately, after a full inspection, we discovered the wheel was bent resulting in the need for a brand new one. After an estimate over seven hundred dollars for the wheel, tire, and installation, I opted to turn in an insurance claim. I've had the same insurance company for twenty years, so a claim does nothing to my premium, and the $250 deductible was much cheaper than the alternative.

Waiting for an adjuster to inspect the car, getting the parts ordered, and then waiting to get the check to pay for everything, we were forced to drive on that black spare wheel and tire the entire week. It also meant I needed to take Alli to work and pick her up every day of the week except one. In the absence of the unspoken pressure we felt driving Sunday night, you know, that feeling of just wanting to get home after being gone for awhile, I took the time to drive slower on those trips to and from Alli's work.

The first thing I noticed on those hour-long commutes as I drove between fifty five and sixty miles per hour, was that I wasn't the only one going slower. Route 40 across the state of North Carolina is a major thoroughfare with a lot of traffic of all shapes and sizes, but despite that fact, I was always in a group of at least three or four cars. And much to my surprise, these other cars driving the speed I was, weren't old jalopies or driven by ancient senior citizens but rather everyday people just choosing not to fly at breakneck speeds. And even more of a surprise to me, the people whizzing by in the fast lane, weren't annoyed or testy at us slowpokes which I fully expected them to be during the extremely busy rush hours. There were no flailing arms or middle fingers or blaring horns, even if one or more of them got stuck behind our slower line as they waited for a chance to dart into the passing lane.

That last part can easily be written off by the fact that Western NC is an easy-going place with generally easy-going people, but I still expected a few dirty looks. But soon enough I started to realize something else was really going on. As I contemplated my own usual speedy driving, I thought about the fact that the only time I ever paid attention to slower traffic was when those cars were going slow in the so-called fast lane. The folks going along their way, respecting the appropriate lanes, were but a passing thought, no pun intended. In all my years of highway driving, I can honestly say I never considered there was another speed except the one that screams, "Get there as fast as you can!" Those slower drivers in the slower lane had probably been there all along, and I just never noticed them. Furthermore, it became obvious the warning that slow drivers cause accidents was pure poppycock. Going 55 in a 60 or 60 in a 65 is not, "slow" and in truth, causes much less danger than 70 in a 55 or 80 in a 65. (You know who you are.) 

As the week went on and I started to settle into the rhythm of the slow lane and the place us cruisers fit into the flow of highway life, I felt myself smiling more, noticing the clouds and the sun, seeing the flower blooms change daily. Mind you, I was still paying attention to the road and proper driving skills, but there was no need for the high blood pressure maneuvering and positioning that occurs ten, twenty, or more miles over the legal speed limit. The nicest part was going along at those slower speeds with other people, not a single one of them wearing a frown.

I have always rushed through life, not just in a car, but in daily life. For some time now I've been trying to do some inner-analysis about what it means to, "Live in the moment." I hike trails to get to the top of the mountain and forget there is beauty along the way. I drive towards goals and forget to enjoy the conquesting of tasks. I use the phrase, "I can't wait..." much more than I use, "I'm looking forward to..." My expectations of the end, in so many areas of my life, block my view of the path it takes to get there. I desperately want to change that about myself.

Sorry, there's no life-affirming conclusion or fable-ending to this post, I'm still trying to figure it all out. I want this greatly, and even the step-by-step process of finding out how to make it a part of my life, is a journey I'm challenging myself to experience. Not sure how long that will take, but I know my life will be more blessed if I figure it out.

No go outside and experience the longest day of the year, people. And if you don't read this until tomorrow or next week or next month, it's still a day above ground and as such it's still able to be enjoyed. so go have fun.

Thanks for reading, now get outside.


Blogger Kimmy said...

I use the phrase, "I can't wait..." much more than I use, "I'm looking forward to..."

Right there with you. I am constantly reminding myself to enjoy the moment I'm in, instead of looking ahead to the next one. Great reminder. Thanks!

2:52 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Sigh. It's ridiculous. Sadly, I don't know how to fix it -- I feel trapped in the cycle.

Occasionally when we're traveling (generally outside the valley where there are multiple lanes), I watch the drivers in other cars...Adam is usually my chauffeur - anyway! I notice how very few people seem to be smiling, laughing, chatting, singing, or enjoying themselves in any way. Sad times.

12:38 AM  
Blogger HennHouse said...

"My expectations of the end, in so many areas of my life, block my view of the path it takes to get there."

A lesson for us all.


10:49 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

As the Dude so eloquently said, "Just, Take it easy man!"

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Jason Hess, CJ said...

Great post! We would all do well to just take our time and enjoy the drive, both on the road and life in general.

2:46 PM  

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