Drive like a yogi

I don’t always drive like a yogi.

If you saw me pull out when the light turns green you’d think I was an aspiring dragster (4-cylinder Toyota or not) until you saw the Just B Yoga magnet on the back of the car.

I don’t like people riding my bumper. I can’t stand drivers who lounge in the left lane and won’t even drive the speed limit. People need to get up to speed on the on-ramp BEFORE getting on the highway, my job is not to slow down or move out of your way when I’m in the stream of traffic on a highway. And as far as I can remember you’re supposed to turn into the lane you were in, not cross a bunch of lanes of traffic as you turn.

Yield doesn’t mean stop.

And why do so many Michiganders stop when there is no stop sign and give another car the right of way when it wasn’t theirs? At first I accepted that it was Midwestern kindness. Now I just find it irritating.

You see, I grew up in D.C. where we have a little piece of asphalt called the Beltway.

I learned to drive in Pittsburgh, a state with a driving obstacle course called the Turnpike.

I’ve survived New York’s Taconic.

And I deemed myself a racecar driver after learning to navigate the “canyons” of Dallas.

But all of that translates to a self-absorbed activity of righteousness. We all believe it’s OUR right of way and no one else’s.

 

So I have been slowing down over the years and usually it’s when I notice emotions flare up and our tendency to express them with and through our vehicles – not a good idea.

It struck me last week as I was driving to get some cat food that the mood in traffic was different. Cars were cutting each other off. Hand gestures and unrolled windows were more commonplace. And some folks actually honked their horns! (a Midwestern no-no)

What is it about the pressure of a holiday that makes our to-do list more important than decency, manners and mutual respect? The journey from one store to another becomes irrelevant, an unfortunate reality that we account for as merely “it should take me 10 minutes to get from here to here” and we set our stopwatches – click – GO.

I was heading toward Frandor, Ground-Zero of traffic mayhem a few days before Thanksgiving. People walked in front of cars without looking. Cars turned without signaling. People were speeding in the parking lot. I was shaking my head at everyone’s haste.

Finally one car zipped out in front of me – we both slammed the brakes in time. Then something in my head went off. I wasn’t irritated any more as I saw the scowl on the other driver’s face. Instead, I wondered if I looked like that.

“I’m not in a hurry,” I said. I knew he couldn’t hear me. It was really just for me.

It was a moment of clarity that eased the tension for both of us. What did I care if he dashed in front of me? It delayed my ability to park by all of 3 seconds.

I carried this newfound mantra with me as I navigated out of Frandor and over to the Better Health and eventually on 496 all the way home. A moment of pause, letting that rushing person do whatever it is – take your parking spot, make you miss the green light, get you stuck behind a train – can be transformative.

“I’m not in that much of a hurry.”

It’s freeing for you and the other person. Because truly, we don’t need to be in that much of a hurry, not to the detriment of each others’ safety. And when we slow down we actually become human and can nod and smile at one another. We can suddenly hear a bell ringer and remember the spirit of the season. We can show each other acts of kindness even if we are complete strangers.

I need to remember that yoga is beyond my mat and in all of my actions. So, I plan to drive like a yogi more often. I hope you will too.

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