A traffic school for navigating through life sounds like a good idea to me. Anything that helps me avoid a big fine, a penalty, some heartache, frustration or pain seems like a great idea.
So I’ve come up with a few rules of my own. Having done some significant amount of traveling, I figure maybe I’m somewhat qualified. At the very least, I need the reminders myself. I’ll work on the slide show presentation later.
- Avoid rush hour if possible, morning and evening.
The sun is always at a bad angle at rush hour, low in the sky and in your eyes, or reflecting in your side or rearview mirror. I aim for the middle ground when possible. I can legally use the HOV lane between nine and three. I can easily change lanes, merge, keep space between me and some yo-yo on his phone. This works in real life too. Trying to do what everyone else is doing, when they’re doing it isn’t always the best course of action. Be yourself.
- Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive.
That’s a no brainer isn’t it? Likewise, don’t drink and be online. You’ll regret whatever you put online while under the influence. An emotional crash, a friend bender, relationship dents, are all possible outcomes when you’re online under the influence. You are not wiser, wittier, more honest or pleasant when you’ve had a few too many. Angry texts and online rants aren’t generally productive either.
- Use a map, or at least have one with you.
I used to always have a map in the car. I used to always have a plan for my life, for my day, for my week, for the next hour. Sometimes your plan just needs ditching and you need to take a detour. If so, go for it. You’ve got a map to get you back on course when you’re ready. Sometimes you need to stick to the planned route no matter what. Only you know which it is. It’s also okay to ask directions, get a different perspective, especially from someone who knows the terrain.
- Have a contingency plan if you get separated.
Staying in touch is always a good idea. A weekly email to your sister, a phone call to mom or dad, a text to your brother, an instant message to a friend, an ongoing Scrabble game with your cousin. There’s also actual handwritten letters, not to mention live and in person visits. Don’t let those distances grow too far apart. Those connections are what really count. That’s what the drive is really all about.
- Stop for bathroom breaks more often than you think you need to.
I can tell you from experience, breakdowns happen and you don’t want to be squatting on the side of the road, no matter how big the bushes might seem. You think you can go full throttle through your day with no breaks, no feet up, no ten-minute nap, but you can’t and you shouldn’t. Step outside and breath real air, go up and down the stairs a couple of times, drink a bottle of water, actually go to the bathroom, do some deep breathing, read a page or two of a book, rest your eyes, do a few stretches. Give your brain and body a break here and there and then you can put the pedal to the metal for a while longer.
- Bring snacks, CDs and water.
Snacks provide entertainment value sometimes, but they also provide memories. See my post about the Lonely Duck for proof of that one. What’s a road trip without licorice, peanuts and m&m’s? Not a real road trip. Pop some music or a great audio book in the CD player and enjoy. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference, don’t ya think? A handful of laughter, a little dollop of whipped wonder or a spoonful of silliness, can make all the difference in life.
- It’s okay to go slower than the speed limit.
Now there’s a revelation! That number on the sign says it’s a LIMIT. Not a suggested speed, but a maximum speed. I know this is a new concept to most drivers. It’s also okay to not race through your life. Just because everyone else has their kids in fifteen afterschool events per week doesn’t mean you have to do the same with your kids. Your to-do list could have one item on it, and that’s okay. Take life at the speed you’re comfortable with.
- Take the scenic route occasionally, or at least take a different route.
Studies show, (okay I made that up, but it’s true) that a change of scenery is a great plan. You don’t have to up and move to another state, like I did six times, for a change. Maybe the change you need is simply a change in routine, or a change in how you react to traffic, or a change in how many breaths you take per minute, or a downshift in the urgency you place on whatever it is you’re doing. Smell those roses, pick those daisies, walk on that grass, take that photo, touch the wet paint, turn right instead of left!
- Don’t yell at, aggravate, cut-off, or flash random hand gestures at drivers.
I still talk to the traffic way too much, but I have changed how I talk. I say quietly to myself things like, “I sure hope his wife doesn’t deliver those twins before they get to the hospital.” Or I wish them well in “getting to a bathroom before the food poisoning hits full force.” I figure there’s a reason behind what people do, no matter how aggravating it is to me. I also try to cut myself some slack when I’m the irritating person. I try to say kinder things to myself, give myself credit for what I do right, instead of focusing on the few things I think I’m failing at. Kindness never hurt anyone, in fact it often helps.
So, class…did I miss anything? Would you add any pointers to my Traffic School Advice? Let me know in the comments below.
Don’t forget to buckle up and have a nice trip!
Related articles you might also enjoy:
- Relieve Stress and Relax by Using Your Five Senses (massageenvy.com)
- What the tearing hurry? (thehindu.com)
Great post! Very thoughtful…I like how you tied everything together and kept consistently to the driving analogy. That must have been hard to do!
You dispense wisdom in such a creative way. Think I’ll share it with my boys and it will be better received than my naggy lecturing. P just started driver’s Ed this week, so good timing. Great life lessons.