So You Think You Can Drive
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” George Carlin
I spent the last week in New York; walking from meeting to meeting, a fast paced walk, keeping up with the hustle and bustle; smiling at people passing by; connecting with the energies bristling through the city and its people – engaged in interaction on the streets of Manhattan. There’s just something about New York – everyone feels so connected. Total strangers, each sharing the idiosyncrasies of the city, together, face-to-face.
Back in L.A., I find myself stuck sitting behind my steering wheel on La Cienega, horn-happy people rushing from place to place without any true, personal contact; hiding behind their steering wheels full of frustration, judgment and blame. Slow, barely-edging-forward traffic creeping up a single lane hill causing me to be late for an appointment, which I had given myself more than enough time to make ON TIME. This frustrates me just a little… can you tell?
I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day; she is an avid cyclist and mountain biker. She was expressing to me what she always bears in mind when she is on her bike, “You want to look where you want to go; don’t look where you don’t want to go.” It got me thinking. If you’re riding on a trail, let’s say keeping an eye out on the rocky path ahead, steering carefully as you gain momentum, you notice a tree ahead, and your focus shifts. Your attention and emphasis is on NOT hitting the tree, “don’t hit the tree, don’t crash into the tree, avoid the tr…” *thwomp!* YOU HIT THE TREE. Why? Because that’s what you focused on.
I have a theory, which came to me—by the way—while I was making my way up the hill in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The theory is: the way you specifically drive your car is synonymous with the way you navigate your way through your life. Much like the way you do anything, is the way you do everything. But there is something very practical at play here. Driving a car, the way we handle the mechanics of it, and steer ourselves along the many paths of life is actually an expression of ourselves – how fast we go, how patient we are, how quick we are to anger… it’s all right there, in the driving.
The way I drive certainly speaks volumes about how I steer my way through life. Admittedly I am a fast driver. I’m not proud of this! If we are heading out on a family vacation—perhaps a little road trip across the country—I will get us there thirty minutes faster than let’s say my husband would (okay I’m lying… in truth it would be 45 minutes faster!). I am certainly not condoning speeding, just in case a cop is reading this – I stick to the speed limit most of the time. Hey, I’m being honest.
Aside from my Michael Schumacher tendency, I am someone who looks pretty far ahead of herself. When I find myself on an elevated portion of the freeway, and there is that available expanse that we can see clearly, I find myself looking a good 200 yards ahead, eyes on the horizon, and always looking forward to ensure what’s coming up in the flow of traffic. I look for the space on the road, an opening that shows me where things seem to be moving quickly and progressing smoothly. I try and see upcoming congestion or problems on the road and how to avoid them if they arise.
Now there are other people who are on hyper-alert in the car; their focus is immediate, and limited to a small bubble of space. Perhaps these people are a little more neurotic in the way they navigate their way through life. Some people are quick to honk their horn, flaring up with road rage in a sudden moment. Perhaps this kind of behavior may allude to a tendency; perhaps people who are quick to honk do not have direct access to their emotions. Perhaps what is really a fear of being late and missing their child’s tennis match, or disappointing a friend who deems punctuality with high esteem and importance is initially felt as frustration and anger, and is taken out on the horn and those on the road – those around them.
Running out of gas… ever happened to you before – and not just once, do you keep doing it? Are you in such a rush that you can’t stop to fill up? Thinking your car will get you just where you need to be, for that really important meeting and THEN you’ll fill up, but once you climb into the car you hurry off to the next meeting, stressed to get there, rushing to get there? Perhaps you run on empty as a person? Constantly pushing your body and energy passed its limits, compromising your health and well being, in an attempt to get things done. Like a car that needs gas, we need fuel, too. Do you ignore the signals that your body displays? Running on empty.
What do you know about yourself? What are your tendencies on the road?
Kabbalist Klonimus Kalman—it’s a tongue-twister I know!—is a kabbalist who died in the holocaust, I have referred to him before, some of you may not be familiar with him, but his work is so poignant, relevant and topical even today. Honestly, there are times when I read his works and it feels as if they were written yesterday.
In his works he teaches that the way the mind operates, the emotions and all the other psychological functions are possible only through personal experience, which one must discover for him or her self. He compares the difference between studying the soul and studying the body. The body is easier to connect to and understand because it is tangible; you can see it, you can feel it, it can even be dissected. It is present and apparent. Whereas the soul is intangible, the goings-on of the soul are within (invisible to everybody else), and only apparent to us because they exist inside of our own bodies. His analogy points out that everybody must be their own analyst.
What I’m proposing is that your driving can tell a lot about your character and personality. Who knew an inanimate object such as your car could bear such a life-lesson?
Consider how you go through your day-to-day life: in stressful situations do you have a propensity to take it out on your spouse, your kids, your friends, your work colleagues? Are you afraid of looking too far ahead, fearing the future as a big, scary unknown? Think about what kind of driver you are and see if it can give you some insight about yourself, and the way you walk (or shall I say drive) through this world. Try and equate the two. It’s a worthwhile exercise.
In kabbalistic terms, and as Karen Berg so aptly explains, being spiritual means you’re there for other human beings when they need you. You’re prepared to leave your comfort zone to help them. It’s in the moments when you push outside of yourself and your needs that the Light of the Creator can flow through you and create miracles for you. So what does this mean in practical, everyday terms?
• If you want something, you will have to give something first.
• If you want people to listen to you, you will need to listen to others.
• If you want to be respected, you will need to give respect.
• If want to be loved, you will need to give love.
Spiritually speaking, when we drive we are able to interact with other people—perhaps not face-to-face—but there is certainly an exchange of energy between you and other cars on the road. It’s not quite New York, but it’s telling! It is important that we not only know who we are, but that we have a desire to know who we are in the here and now. Usually this requires looking deep within one’s own soul and listening to the whispers of our own heart. But in this case, I’m making it a lot simpler!
Here is a list of questions to ask yourself… and it’s a fun and worthwhile exercise. Please don’t get caught up in “wrong or right”. This is an opportunity to learn about yourself, bettering yourself (and your driving! Haha!) Think about how you respond on the road.
- Are you a gracious driver?
- Do you allow cars space to move into the lane you’re in?
- Do you cut people off?
- Do you find that you are often cut-off in traffic?
- Have you ever considered that’s because you do the same thing to others on the road?
- Are you quick to honk your horn?
- Are you patient with pedestrians?
- Do you drive fast?
10. How aware are you on the road?
11. Do you rush to make the traffic light?
12. Do you do the same in life; are you constantly rushing and making it just under the wire?
13. Are you overly cautious on the road; do you over-think every decision you make?
Now, look at your answers. And replace the “car” with a person you hold dear to you, perhaps even yourself.
Here are some clues:
- Are you a gracious driver? Would be replaced and read as, are you a gracious Lover?
- Do you cut people off? Would translate to, do you listen to people?
- Do you drive fast? Well, do you live fast?
See what I mean…? It’s informative – you take it from here. Was pretty interesting when I did it.
I also found this cute little joke to end this piece. Enjoy!
When asked for her occupation, a woman charged with a traffic violation said she was a schoolteacher. The judge rose from the bench. Smiling with delight “Madam, I have waited years for a schoolteacher to appear before this court. Now sit down at that table and write ‘I will not pass through a red light’ five hundred times.”
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