Thursday, 8 January 2009

deep thoughts from traffic

Driving along the 401 yesterday (which doesn't sharply differentiate it from many other days) through the snow/slush/ice pellets, I had to watch my speed. Over about 60 kms/hr the car had a tendancy to skid and swoop like a playful bird. Lots of concentration required, and concentration is not my strong suit. (I would rather be chatting to my companion, singing along with the radio, or thinking about what will happen next in any story I am writing.) Spun-out vehicles, and there were many, reminded me of the consequences of inattention and haste. (I couldn't even summon up a fleeting smile of satisfaction when I came across an untimely halted 4x4, and recognized it as one which had spattered me with a bow wave of frozen spume as it passed. Oh oh, I thought.) My mood, in short, was fearful and focussed.
And then we caught up to the snow plows. And my average speed was cut in half, as we crawled along. The road was clear (for now) and safe and easy to follow. I should have been pleased -- there was no danger of spinning out, no further need for white knuckles and sharp indrawn breaths. But I wasn't pleased. I was grumpy. It was going to take me forever to get there! Couldn't we go any faster than this? Come on, come on! I wanted to shout at the plows.
When I reached my off ramp, I sped up, and immediately started to fishtail. I brought the car under control, slowing back to a crawl. My grumpiness vanished as if it had never been, replaced by a returning fear.
How much of life (I wondered) is an icy road, with a choice between too fast and dangerous, and too slow and boring? Between Oh oh! and Come on! Why are we so ready to complain? Why can't we thank our stars that we are not in a ditch? Why can't we appreciate the plows that make the way clear? Why are we such idiots?
Maybe I am using the wrong pronoun here.

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