When Pace posted about slowing down in life, one thing she recommended was, “Slow down when you drive. It’ll only cost you a couple of minutes and will make the quality of your drive (and your life!) better.”
A few Saturdays ago, I was driving slowly behind a cyclist. We were on a narrow, windy (curvy, not blustery) road going up and down hills, with miles of no-pass double yellow lines. I wasn’t in a hurry and was giving the cyclist plenty of room. Suddenly, a tiny white sports car and a huge black truck were right on my tail. I wanted to speed up, but didn’t want to crowd the dude on the bike or cross the double yellow line – and not just because it’s illegal; I couldn’t see far enough to safely pass.
The longer this situation drew out, the more tense I became, until my knuckles were nearly white. Pace kept suggesting that I chill out and ignore the cars behind me, but peer pressure wasn’t the problem; the problem was that they were so close that I was terrified of the possibility of a major accident if I had to stop suddenly.
Finally, we rounded a curve and could see a little way off, so the white car slammed on the gas and sped around me and the cyclist in a cloud of dust and hurry. The black truck followed suit, and I was able to relax and slow back down.
After the cars behind me had disappeared, I was going no more than 15 mph. I wasn’t rushed or bothered. I was perfectly content to drive at the veritable snail’s pace, passing trees slowly enough to see how many leaves sparkled in the sun. But the discomfort of dangerously fast cars tailgating me pushed me to drive outside of my own comfort zone (and probably outside of the cyclist’s comfort zone, too).
If I’m late, speeding or reckless driving isn’t going to save me much. Pace timed a few of our trips and found that the difference between hurried driving and relaxed driving rarely made a difference of more than 30 seconds. How will 30 seconds make or break me? It might even wind up costing me a lot; I could get pulled over by an officer or get into an accident.
I’ve made it a habit to either leave early enough to be on time or let go of caring about being late. (Usually the former.) I drive at the speed limit most of the time, and I let the other cars careen around me. I find that life won’t pass you by if you slow yourself down a bit – the opposite occurs, in fact. Life is slower than our usual hectic speed, so slowing down allows us to experience more of it.
Driving doesn’t need to be a competition; if someone wants to merge into your lane, slow down and let them over. Fighting them won’t save you time and will cost you in stress. Remember that it’s not about you – that careless guy that cut you off is probably worried about losing his job or his house and not even thinking about you, so carrying anger at him for miles won’t help you.
Relax, breathe deeply, and slow down – in life and on the roads.