Rushin’ Refugee Report June 18, 2014 ~~ Driving To Distraction ~~

June is Savoring Month (as designated by my very own self) and every Wednesday this month, I’ll be checking in on how I’m doing as a recovering Rushin’ Refugee.

rushin refugee Volkswagen-Jetta-TDIWhen I started dating my husband Frank, I thought something was wrong with his car. It went so slowly, I thought the engine needed an overhaul or something.

“No,” he said, “The car’s fine. I just like to drive slowly. It’s relaxing.”

Yeah, well, whatever.

Whenever Frank rode with me, I noticed that he was usually gripping the seat in a decidedly unrelaxed way.

My driving habit is one of precision: I leave exACTly the 14 minutes I need to get across town to the gym or the 6 minutes to get downtown or the 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to my sister’s. I somehow figure that there will never be any traffic, never any construction, never a Frank-style driver in front of me. And of course, that never happens.

Given my habit, I am always just the teensiest bit late and just the teensiest bit anxious about getting to wherever I am going on time.

I am also annoyed. I may well be sincerely deluded about how long it is going to take me to get somewhere, but I know perfectly well whose fault it is that I am pushing and running behind. I am not annoyed with the traffic jam or the road work or the slow driver in front of me. I am annoyed with me for not leaving more time.

In my heart, I know Frank is right: driving slowly is relaxing.

Since recognizing that I am, in fact, a recovering Rushin’ Refugee, I’ve been playing with erring on the side of leaving more time to get where I’m going. Instead of doing that One More Thing before I go … I just go.

With a little more wiggle room, I am driving more slowly (especially through the work zone). I know I don’t even need to mention the enormous safety benefits to driving slowly. It’s a practice worth doing just for that.

Turns out, though, that the benefits of slowing down expand even beyond safety. Going slowly gives me time to notice things along the way: people on the sidewalk, flowers in yards, and the stretch of mountains and sky as I come over Pantops Mountain. Leaving more time gives me time to be kinder on the road: letting cars into the traffic flow, waving someone else to proceed through the intersection before me, and offering a genuine “thank you wave” when someone does the same for me.

Sometimes I get to my destination sooner than I expected, but again, this gives me more time to say hello and check in with people, including myself. Last week, I had enough time before class to plop down outside the studio and make a prayer flag for our Michael Franti project.

Breaking any habit takes time and I’ve messed up my intention to leave more time more than once. But it’s actually fun to experiment with leaving more time rather than driving myself to distraction.

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