Monday, March 23, 2015

Perspective and Driving

Perspective is about gratitude, being satisfied with what you have and not constantly yearning for more.  This is consistent with the ancient wisdom of moderation.  People strong in perspective understand that some things are very important and some are trivial, and they are able to put their purchases and other decisions in a proper order.  Without this ability to rank the things in our lives we may use up our resources such as money, spending on low-value items before critical needs are met, or time, deciding to spend our lives in some pursuits while we forego more rewarding ones.  Does this understanding also apply to driving?

This thought occurred to me as I drove on a 4-lane, 55mph county road on the way to yoga class.  Coming toward a freshly turned green traffic light, I was in the right lane gaining on a large truck in the left lane that had slowed for traffic ahead and was now slowly accelerating.  The rate of acceleration and overall speed of the truck was apparently not satisfactory to the car coming up from behind.  As he neared the back of the truck he sped up and cut over in front of me and pulled ahead.  Naturally, having been driving for over 50 years, I anticipated this potentially dangerous move and slowed enough to allow room to let him in.  Had I not been paying attention and not done so, who knows what would have happened?

I wondered if it was so important that he get where he was going so quickly as to put us both in danger.  Was arriving immediately on time or perhaps not any later than he already was worth the grief and inconvenience that he and his family may have been subject to between the medical attention and car repair?  Even if he had no regard for me, this should have been a consideration.

Of course as we drive on a daily commute or run errands, it is obvious that many drivers don’t have this kind of perspective.  They take driving for granted.  They have forgotten how dangerous a moving vehicle can be.  They make no mental trade off between on one hand, tailgating, cutting in and out of traffic, speeding excessively or texting and other distractions, and on the other hand, the potential serious disruption to their normal routines and, more important, the possible impact on their lives and those they care for.  Their behavior shows a clear a lack of perspective.

As is usually the case, at the next traffic light I made a left hand turn on the arrow, while he who was in such a hurry waited for the light to turn green –no perspective and no real progress either.

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