Friday, August 18, 2017

Zen in the Slow Lane

(post copyright 2017, Dawn Weber)

I tried something new today. I drove the speed limit. Almost.

I can't believe it myself, but it's true: I went 71 miles an hour in a 70 mph zone on the interstate, and I am thoroughly impressed with myself, even though I might be a senior citizen now.

Not only did I go the speed limit, I stayed on the far right for most of my trip. Yep. I tooled along in the slow lane like I had no place to go. Like I didn't have a job. Like I was 80.

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, this idea of driving slow. Along with millions of other American hot-heads, I've been a fast-lane driver most of my life, cheerfully going five to ten miles over the speed limit in the left lane and passing everyone in the right lane. My habits have only grown worse as I've aged--I've been the blur on your left, the headlights in your rearview mirror and the thorn in your side, kind of wishing you'd get out of my way.

As I've said before, instant asshole: just add freeway. Nowhere is this more apparent than the interstate, where nice, tax-paying, law-abiding people become Satan's spawn. It's especially true of the left lane, where the asshole quota is much higher.

I'll admit it: without even meaning to, I have occasionally been obnoxious in the fast lane. Maybe more "jerk" than asshole, but still--I'm tired of it. I'm tired of watching for brake lights. I'm tired of white knuckles. I'm tired of stress headaches, a pounding heart and a racing pulse. I'm tired of Rusty McLeftLane, cruising 50 mph in the fast lane. I'm tired of Sneaky McRightLane, trying to pass  on the right. I'm tired of tail-gaters, riding my rear like a frat boy on a Saturday night.

Mostly, I'm just tired.

And in today's commute, I discovered something important, and it is that in the slow lane, there are no worries. I can drive at a reasonable pace, merrily oblivious to any kind of stress, and if the people behind me don't like it, well, they can pull out and pass. I'm doing what a right-lane driver should: putting along at the posted speed limit, while the folks in the left lane continue in their quest to kill each other.

Oldster level: complete.

But most of all, in the slow lane, I can ignore the assholes, and if I've learned anything in my 48 years, it's that one of the keys to a long and happy life is ignoring assholes. Before I move from "jerk" status to "asshole" status myself, I'm going to slow my roll a bit, because the senior citizens really have something here. Although I'll admit that it's much easier to do when I'm going somewhere I have no desire to go -- such as work -- driving the speed limit in the right lane is freeing and downright relaxing, and I have much more energy to think, to chill--to just stop and smell the roadkill. 

You know, I just might obey the law more often.