Saturday, February 6, 2010

Driving 60

Have you ever tried driving below the speed limit...on purpose? I mean, while other cars are zooming past you? Not menacingly slow, just something like 5 mph under the limit? If you're a lead-foot like me, this will be a new experience for you and somewhat of a challenge.

A few weeks ago I found myself driving to the mall very late at night, to pick up my son and his friends who had all just gotten out of the late show. I had been going, going, going all day and had long since run out of stamina. I was so completely wiped out that by the time I was backing out of the driveway for this last errand...even my van felt tired.

Usually I take to I-15 at a nice 7-10 miles over the speed limit and I'm usually in good company, but that night 60 was all I could muster. I was officially out of the race. Car after car passed by, leaving me in the dust. As I plodded along in the slow lane I began to realize that I had left the world I was used to living in and had entered a whole new existence. I was driving at the speed of contemplation. I waxed philosophical, like some sort of guru with a key fob. Everything became a metaphor as my inner beatnik emerged.

Driving slow started to mean that where I had been was OK and that I didn't have to run away from the past. It started to mean that where I was going was my decision, but how I got there was largely up to forces beyond my control, a.k.a."Life is what happens while you're making other plans". Sixty miles an hour meant no competition, no vying for preeminence. No enemies. My new compliance with the law squelched my old fear of it. And for once in my life, I wasn't secretly employing every bad driving practice that my husband openly loathed, while wondering how I'd explain myself if I were to get caught. (is there an emoticon for "sheepish confession"?)

Later I realized that if I wanted to maintain this slow-driver status/state of mind, I would finally have to own up to the fact that sometimes I'm a little overbooked and a lot of late...which is something I hate. I hate late. Speeding is my form of denial, a desperate attempt to escape from consequences and frankly, buy more time. For me, speeding was like buying on credit. Trying to get somewhere on something that I just didn't have, all for the sake of appearances. In the future, driving slow would take more than just being tired, it would take planning, downsizing my schedule a bit, self discipline and most gruelling of all...self-honesty. Basically, all the things that any decent key-fobbed guru would need.

So the question is...can I do it? I'm not sure, but I do know this: If you ever have more miles to go than money for therapy, don't underestimate the power of a good slow-down. And my guess is...slow-downs work in kitchens, bedrooms and backyards as well. No steering wheel needed.