It’s Never Too Late To Be a Good Driver

I’m still not really sure what happened to me.  Perhaps it was the hour plus commute I had been making over the last three years.  Maybe it was working the night shift.  I was stressed every morning, wondering if I’d make it to work on time. I had become very impatient.  Everyday I was speeding, driving on the median, whatever it took to get to work on time. Very bad stuff. I had become reckless. 

One day it all caught up with me.  While driving too fast in the rain, I hydroplaned and started sliding. Just as I was regaining the ability to steer, I was bumped by another car, which sent me into a full spin.  I did a 360 and was once again driving in the right direction, albeit in a different lane. Luckily, what could have been catastrophic, turned out to be very minor. I stopped to check on the other driver, and except for extremely minor damage to both cars, everything was fine. There were no apparent injuries to either of us, and after exchanging information, we both drove away. However, the other driver filed an injury claim, and being at fault, this was 2 points on my record. This plus the speeding ticket I got about a year ago put me at 3 points.

About 2 months later I made an illegal lane change, hoping to save a few minutes, and got another ticket. Finally, I nearly sped past a High Patrol car. I was able to slow down before he saw me and all was fine. About five minutes later, he was behind me, red light aglow.  I had somehow passed him. I looked at my speedometer.  83mph?!?! How was this possible?  I knew there was a CHP on my wing. Not only was this 5 points against me it and sure insurance cancellation, but it was a clear reflection of how disconnected I had become.

When I looked back over the past year, I realized I was focusing on all the negative aspects instead of any of the positive ones. A good example being is that I was in a potentially serious accident and both involved drove away. But I saw only that I messed up, not that I was blessed to be alive. I worried everyday about my blunders. I let mistakes dominate my thoughts when there are so many positive things in my world.

Over the next 4 months, waiting for my insurance to expire and the impending non-renewal, I had let my poor driving define me as a person. No matter what good things occurred in my life, the thought of being “A Bad Driver” consumed me. I started feeling depressed. It had become my identity. I was so focused on it, I felt I had screwed up irreparably.

I talked to a friend about the situation I had created for myself. He asked me to interpret the message being sent to me. My answer was simple. “Slow down my driving”, I told him.  He agreed, but suggested it could be something more. Perhaps the message was to simply slow down with my life.

That opened my eyes to what was happening. The problem started when I woke up. I began thinking about what I had to do before leaving each day which, brought the feeling of time scarcity. I had moved from a place of acting to reacting and knew I had to be deliberate about changing it. So, I began getting up 30 minutes earlier. I spent 15 minutes meditating and another 15 playing my guitar. Although the time spent not being “productive” was at first hard to accept, (there were other things that needed to be done), I gradually began enjoying those 30 minutes. It set a calm mood for the day. Time felt abundant and I was able to accomplish more, rather than running around in an aimless panic. Things seemed to flow, and I had exactly the time need to execute the tasks I had to do before leaving to work.

When I got in my car, I started listening to my favorite music instead of talk radio bringing news of doom and gloom that had become my norm. I started to relax and enjoy my drive instead of resisting it, and I looked forward to this solitude. I was able to drive relaxed instead focusing on being late. My commute had become like flowing down a stream in a canoe as opposed to sprinting on a hot day.

Worrying is usually worse than reality. I think this is the meaning nothing to fear but fear itself. The unknown. I began to look forward having my insurance canceled so I could deal with it and move on. To dispose of the Bad Driver label that I had hung on to as well as my collection of other negative thoughts. 

For all the fear and worry I caused myself, my insurance company put me on their risky driver program. The increase was less $400, not the $2000 plus increase I had created in my head.  The relief and release of guilt made me laugh at myself!  I was amazed that I had let my thoughts do this to me again.

It’s never too late to become a “Good Driver” was the loop that played in my head. What my heart told me was that a driver, good or bad, is not who I am at all. I may need to change my habits, but I don’t need to change my being. I don’t want outside forces to set my pace. I am the music of my soul and that is what guides my tempo.