Steer clear

I think we’ve established by now, dear reader, that I think entirely too much about far too much, way too often.

Most times I do my thinking in the car. There is something about the open road; the solitude of a solo drive with tunes blaring that helps me to process my decisions, unless I am in a snow squall.

In the midst of a whiteout the voice in my head says really helpful things like: “Go slow. Do not panic. Do not crash. Do not throw up.”

During our recent winter blasts, when I had plenty of time to spin my wheels, so to speak, it hit me: winter driving is a perfect metaphor for my life. Buckle up.

Before I start to drive, it’s best to warm up the car. I rarely do this. I don’t the have patience or the time. I want to get moving right away; places to go, people to see. I am always in gear and revved up, unless, of course, I am parked.

I am either going too fast or at a complete stop. I continue to learn that I have to make time to do things right or I’m going nowhere.

When I get out on the road, no matter how sloppy or icy the roads are, there is always some road bully who speeds with false authority over ice and snow covered roads, passes on a steep hill without so much as touching their brakes or weaves in and out of traffic without the slightest fear of sliding out of control, despite the fact that their spin will wipe out a lane of cars. 

It makes me nervous.

I think of all the families in the cars who would be affected if the road warrior spins out.

My thoughts go right to the babies in their car seats or the children in their seat belts. I wonder if being first in a line of traffic really makes potentially killing other drivers worth the challenge. 

But I would think that way, because I’m too sensitive. I have to learn that my emotions don’t change the fact that jerks are jerks and I should just stay in my own lane. Best not to get ruffled.

Tailgaters are just the bullies from high school that now relive their glory days of cowardice behind the safety of the windshield, where their actions are anonymous because you can’t read their license plates.

True to form, they never get caught, but every other car tries to get out of their way. Sometimes, for fun, I touch my brakes.

When I get all wigged out and white knuckled about the panic of winter driving, I try to remember that bad drivers are just people who seem to have forgotten the value of their own lives, thus are ignorant about those around them.

I am supposed to have empathy for that. I’m a work in progress.

As the snow blinds my sense of direction, all I can do is hold on, go slow and keep moving forward. I can’t stop.

I have many reasons to get home safely. I am grateful for that. I can only throw on the hazards, admit I’m afraid and push ahead anyway.

I could stay off the roads altogether, but life is a risk.

Nobody knows what goes on in the lives of other drivers. All you can do is map out your own journey and steer ahead. And hold on.



Kelly Waterhouse