First of all, I can take in more of the view. Second of all, I’m less likely to rear end someone or get rear-ended. Third, my heart rate can stay low, my blood pressure too. I don’t have to find myself hurling silent or voiced epithets at all the really bad drivers and the dumb things they (I too) do, when I and they are in a hurry.
Fourth, I arrive at my destination relaxed.
Fifth. My destination is always here. I mean. Here. Now. Like Ram Dass said. Why skip over the potential enjoyment of this moment, just to get to that imagined future one?
Ok I’m not really talking about driving. Though it works for that too. Listen. It’s not the other drivers and the traffic and the traffic lights’ fault. It’s me (& you) that didn’t leave enough time. That didn’t take into consideration other drivers (slow, distracted, angry), road work, detours, a traffic jam. A two mile trajectory made up not only of roadways and city blocks, but of worlds. It only takes 30 minutes to get from here to there IF there are NO worlds along the way, and what’s the chance of that? Zero. Zilch. Nada. No chance.
It’s hard to allow time for the unknowns. We so wish, believe, hope the unknowns won’t happen. Will be one street over. Won’t get in our way. But they will. You know they will. I know they will. Most certainly. They will.
So if I add in that extra 15 minutes for the so-called 30 minute drive, and just make it a 45 minute drive, everyone is going to be a lot happier. My back and forehead won’t be in tension-filled knots, I’ll be a more gracious driver (a very particular form of graciousness) and maybe no one has to die because of my road trip.
I once took on a driving meditation practice where whenever I found myself behind a really slow driver, rather than judging them and changing lanes as quickly as I could, I would stay behind them, let them set the pace, and express gratitude to them for being my buddha-of-the-moment.
For awhile I did this a lot and it really helped (as long as I had planned in the extra 15 minutes). For a born-and-bred fast driver like myself, it was surprisingly refreshing. AND it is a challenging meditation practice. Advanced. Someone might be willing to sit cross-legged on the floor for an hour and feel really good about their spiritual attainment, but this practice is harder. I believe it also has more social benefits.
Lately I find myself running late more often, and therefore less inclined to do the driving meditation. So I suffer more. You’d think once I learned the lesson, I’d know it. However, I seem to need repeat lessons. Even when simple truth confronts me.
In real life, life in the slowing down lane is also a challenging practice. It’s what buddhist teachers call “practice-off-the-cushion”. Classic sitting meditation (which looks so impressive) is like trainer wheels on your bicycle when you’re six years old. It’s to get you ready for the real thing. Two wheels. Life. Especially in difficult, challenging times.
Slowing down sounds like a good idea. Like people say, I really should slow down. I really should not work so hard. I really should get more sleep, take a nap, rest. The should is the clue. You’re not planning to do it any time soon.
Aging though (and a few other things — sickness, injury) have their own schedules. Their own rate of speed of decline or healing. I know I’m better off when I move in accord, when I slow down enough to see the scenery, the lay of the land, the options that are real and not. When I figure out some way to be grateful. I might even find my self more graceful, more in grace. Saying thank you for the slow driver in front of me. It’s a lesson I keep learning. Slowly.