Try This: It’s The Opposite of Road Rage

My sweetheart loves classic cars, and she and as luck would have it, she and I happened upon a surprise car show the other weekend. Already, the opposite of road rage!

It really was such a pleasant surprise! We passed it on the way home from a summer day spent being a tourist in a small town nearby and thought, What the heck! and turned around to go take a look. 

And if it hadn’t been other-worldly hot that day (like in the 90s with high humidity—typical southern summer weather, though) we’d have lingered longer, and I’d have also taken more pictures. As it was, though, I got some great pictures…

Including the orange Gremlin you see above. 

Moments earlier we’d looked over and had seen the orange Gremlin at a traffic light beside us on its way to the car show we were about to drive by. And that Gremlin sure made us smile before we even saw the other cars at the car show. 

(By the way, the next time you’re at a car show, stick your head in the window of one of the cars and smell the interior. If you’re of a certain age, ahem…, this will most definitely take you back. I think smells are truly amazing the way they can take us on a journey instantly.)

A change of heart strings, from road rage to road calm

So I thought about this orange Gremlin and also about anytime we see classic cars on the road. I thought about the memories they bring back, of course, but also the smile they tend to put on our face.

But driving is obviously more tense than pleasant too much of the time. You’re practically holding tight the whole time you’re driving due to crazy people and idiots and accidents waiting to happen, and whatever other surprises await, especially in a large, dense area, or on the interstate.

I confess that I used to get me some road rage. I used to become far more frustrated than I do now. Frustrated with other drivers, of course, and just frustrated in general with vehicles and traffic getting in my way or slowing me down. 

But seriously other drivers can be so bad. They camp in the left lane, they follow you too closely, they crowd you, they cut you off, they race ahead of you for no reason, and the worst of all, far too many drivers seem altogether unaware of anyone on the road but them. 

We all know this stuff.

So I’d kind of get wrapped up in the atmo on the road—I’d get agitated along with the other drivers. Even angry, which is pointless but doesn’t feel that way at the time.

But I’m a lot calmer now, thank the heavens.

I’ve relaxed on the road

I’ve just let go a bit, maybe even a lot.

I’ve always been a pretty careful and aware driver. A lot of what I learned in driver’s ed and from my parents has served me well. I consider myself a good driver. (Weird that we all do, though, isn’t it??)

But the truth is, being a patient driver is one of my best driving skills these days. 

I’ve now gotten to where even if I’m in a hurry or people are driving excessively poorly or something is going wrong, I just take it all the more easy. I try not to panic or freak out, even a little. I try not to let my body get uptight or tense, or let my brain get worked up or let my blood boil. 

I tell myself la-la stuff like “everything works out for me” or “all timing is divine timing.” 

And hey, it works. I stay pretty calm. I don’t worry. I don’t tend to get so worked up or impatient. And my blood pressure thanks me, as does everyone else on the road.

I remind myself that maybe the universe or the Good Lord are slowing me down for a reason. 

I let myself relax, knowing that nothing is as important as my being present at that moment, never mind getting where I’m going safely, and also never mind everyone else doing the same.

So maybe I need to leave earlier next time. Maybe take a different route next time. Maybe go to the bathroom before I get in the car next time so that at least my full bladder isn’t the reason for my impatience. 

But once I’m in the situation, even if I wish I’d done something another way, things just are what they are. And no matter how much I want it to be the case, I’ve decided that my hurry or frustration doesn’t mean everyone else on the road that day has to get out of my way.

There but by the grace of God

My sweetheart and I were driving home from a trip sometime last year and got one of those loud alerts on our phones. 

Except that it was from the Georgia DOT. We’d never before received an emergency alert from the DOT, and haven’t seen one since, for that matter.

The alert said that there was an enormous accident up ahead on Interstate 95.

It was morning, but the accident had happened many hours earlier and was still being cleaned up. It was so bad that the lane we were in had just then, hours later, cleared enough to drive very, very slowly by the scene, and oncoming traffic was going to still be backed up for hours. 

We learned from the news that the accident involved a car traveling the wrong way on the highway in the wee hours or the night/morning, an eighteen-wheeler going the in correct direction, and a van full of fourteen passengers (twelve of them children), also going in the correct direction, on the other side of the highway. 

As we drove by the accident site and also saw the miles and miles and miles of stopped cars on the other side of the highway, we decided that never again would we bitch about a slowdown on the highway. 

This was a there-but-by-the-grace-of-God situation. And we knew it deep down.

We were reverent as we passed that scene, and honestly, I think a whole lot of people were. 

So be a nice driver

It’s a fact—some people just aren’t good drivers. Some people drive maddeningly slow on a two-lane road, with no way to pass them. Some people are in too much of a hurry for anyone’s good. Some people drive outright dangerously and put everyone at risk. 

(In fact, when I see those crotch-rockets zooming in and out of traffic, I just say a prayer on behalf of them and their entire family. That shit is just freaky to watch.)

Sometimes traffic is ungodly. Sometimes roads are poorly marked, Google Maps is wrong, the roads suck, people cause near-accidents, and on and on. 

And sometimes we’re the one who pulls out in front of someone when we shouldn’t. Sometimes we’re the one who’s made a mistake that could have been terrible and thank the heavens it wasn’t.

But somehow getting in our car makes us feel like we’ve disappeared and that everyone else on the road is anonymous, too. And worse, that everyone else is even some sort of enemy sometimes. 

We kind of forget those are humans in all those vehicles

So I’ve made up my mind to try staying calm and kind, even peaceful on the road, even while I’m on high alert because driving is still serious business. I just don’t need to be uptight just because I’m serious, though.

I wave people on when I can. I try to let them cut in front of me if that’s what they’re intent on doing. I try to have patience for the hurriers. I try not to be one of the hurriers if it’s going to make me or anyone else uptight. I smile at people. I try to remember to wave it off if someone does something iffy, whether by accident or even because they’re acting like a jerk. I try not to get provoked. 

Maybe it’s not a big deal for anyone else…

But #1, it keeps me calm when driving, which could potentially be a very big deal.

And #2, I might possibly be creating peacefulness in the world.

So it really is the opposite of road rage. (“Road peace”—is that a thing?)

It just takes awareness and intention.

Road rage, on the other hand—even minor road rage, is all reaction, all emotion, and is a matter of viewing other drivers as opponents.

So let’s do the opposite of that. 

Let’s not drive combatively.

It sounds so simple and almost silly, but just be a nice driver. 

It’s good for the world. Really good.

See if “road peace” works better for you than its yukball opposite, road rage.

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