Driving stressed: the follow-up

After posting last week about driving under the influence of stress, I began an experiment. My experiment involves convincing myself I do not care if we are late.

My theory since I first learned to drive is that speeding doesn’t get you there any faster than you would have (I formed this theory in NYC, with stop lights as the great equalizer) and I hold by it still. Since I wasn’t burning up the road anyhow, I told myself to chill. It’s summertime. If we’re late to the kids’ swim lessons, the instructor isn’t going to drown me, right?

Oddly enough, without leaving any earlier, we still haven’t arrived much later at anything. I’m pleased to see my theory holds in the Swamp as well as in the City.

First thing I noticed: it’s not just my imagionation. The speed markers around Angelborough do, in fact, change once or twice per mile.

That makes it easier for a driver to just say, “Screw it,” and stick to 35-45mph regardless of the speed zone, since it’s difficult to keep track of whether you should be doing 25, 30, 35, 40 or 45.  Most drivers plow through at a steady rate: around 40 for between towns and around 30 for through them. By paying attention, I discovered I’m actually not that far off the recommended numbers. I only felt like I was. You wouldn’t think taking 3mph off your speed would change things, but it actually did leave me more relaxed.

What has not happened is the thing I predicted, that I’d have a trail of angry drivers on my bumper.

But the largest change was in my head. I realized yesterday while returning from swim lessons that I’m supposed to be here.

When you’re driving stressed, you’re thinking of being there. As Wendy told me once, if asked “What are you doing?” only one in ten drivers will respond with “I’m driving a car.”

Well, now I’m driving a car. I’m here. Concentrating on being there devalues the moment, devalues the process. It makes sense to reduce the amount of worthless effort in our lives, but by relaxing and enjoying the here, we restore its value.

My mother told me once, “Always trust that you’re in the right place. If you’re working at it, you’re where God wants you to be.” For now, I guess, God wants me driving a car. Driving it calmly.


  1. christopher

    “I realized yesterday while returning from swim lessons that I’m supposed to be here.” Very nice (and you didn’t even need a frying pan!). Once one learns that, it’s still so easy to forget, especially with kids. And the same principle applies with kids too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got a million things to do and treat my time with the kids as another thing on my list. It’s only when I’m able to STOP and actually be THERE with the kids that I/WE get out of it what we’re meant to.

  2. cricketB

    When I’m stuck in a line, it’s because Someone is telling me I need to slow down — mentally and physically. The harder it is to follow that advice, the more it’s needed.

  3. Pat

    Guess what? If you don’t know in advance that “email is a required field, you lose your whole comment!

    1. philangelus

      Oops–that’s a major design flaw. 🙁