Friday, September 22, 2006

Sharing the Road

Sometimes a minor life experience can be a major lesson in living life.

When I worked in North County part of my drive to work was a two-lane, winding road, about ten miles, where it was mostly double yellow line – no passing. Every so often there was a sort of turn-out where one could move aside and let another car past, and it was my habit to do that whenever someone who was driving faster than I was caught up with me.

Some drivers went slower than I did and they usually made use of those turnouts to let me by. We all cohabited on that road quite comfortably. Well, there was an occasional speeder and once in a while a wreck, but…

One afternoon on my way home I caught up with a guy driving a jeep and followed along awaiting an opportunity to pass. He seemed to feel that I was following too closely and started tapping his brakes and giving me gestures to tell me that I was “number one,” all of which I thought was rather silly. I didn’t think I was all that close, maybe two car lengths at 25 mph, and I wanted to be close enough that I would be able to use a passing opportunity when it arose.

When we got to one of the turn-outs he didn’t use it, forcing me to continue following him. He also continued to make gestures, waving and making “pushing” signs, tapping his brakes, flipping me off, etc. The more frantically he attempted to get me to move away from him, and the more turnouts we passed without him allowing me to pass, the more amused I became.

Do I need to tell you I did not increase my distance?

By the time we got to the end of that road he was practically foaming at the mouth and I was actually laughing out loud. There had been numerous opportunities for him to get me “off of his tail” by allowing me to pass, but he had failed utterly in his efforts to “do it his way.”

In addition to my amusement I was grateful for the moment, for I realized it had solidified for me an important lesson.

If I try to secure my comfort zone by controlling the behavior of others I am doomed to a life of frustration, anger and disappointment. When I simply “share the road” with others, life is really good.

That seems too simple to be valid, but it really does work. It not only works, it is an absolute monster of a stress reliever. It’s effective in the workplace, in social settings, and even in dealing within a homeowners association (where it’s often really essential in order to maintain any shred of sanity).

It works in my marriage too, although it does require that we sometimes work together on how that “road share” is going to be accomplished. It is important for me to remember that we are talking together about how we are going to share the road, and that me telling my wife what I need from her is only one small part of the discussion, that it's not about me getting her to change her behavior to make me comfortable.

Sharing the road. It’s not just for cars.

1 comment:

  1. bruce1:10 AM

    Oh my goodness... I found this so amusing and so true. I know a lot of people that would benefit from this. Good observation.