My dear reader, the aggression that I see on the roads has got to stop. Really.
Yesterday, I was telling you about how I had disconnected myself from the news media completely. I posted, and then got in the car to drive down the hill, still thinking about it. I started to shuffle through my list of podcasts but set it aside. I needed to think quietly a while, so I set my notebook out with my pen ready just in case I needed to capture anything that floated by.
I started thinking, “You know, Michelle, everyone is going to think you’re crazy.” I kept imagining the questions and the scoffs. I’m not new to this. I’ve attempted to explain before. But I always come up short-handed. I can’t seem to get my ideas through.
I jotted down, “principles: there’s a list of principles I go by when considering information” and then I sat in traffic trying to get out of the basin and my thoughts were scattered.
My town, and the surrounding area, is filled with extremely aggressive drivers. Do we not understand the basic rules of the road? Am I mistaken in believing that the point is to get where you’re going safely, not get there first? I didn’t know we were in a race to the finish. I watched people vie for pole position, pass me (in a no passing area due to major construction at 30 mph over the posted speed limit) almost forcing me into a wall when they hit the turn, and aggressively not allow other cars to merge into traffic as if they were in line for a prize and would miss out if someone “cut in front of them.”
I started to wonder (as I sat in the twenty minutes of stop-and-go caused by a lack of understanding of traffic patterns, something easily fixed, but you know, screw those people), is our driving aggression a reflection of how we are all feeling right now?
It reminded me of Groundhog Day.
I get it. Life is complicated. We’re all a tad upset and unnerved these days, but do we need to make it worse by attempting to kill each other on the way to work, school, and the grocery store?
Apparently, the answer is yes. I can’t change that, but I can drive defensively, respond not react, and let things go. Which brings me back to those principles I was thinking of when I started.
Not devouring the news doesn’t mean that I don’t care about what’s happening in the world, but there are natural limits to everything, and I choose to put my energy resources only into things that I can do something about personally.
When something comes into my life, I research what I should do about it, do what I can, and let the rest go. I am not always successful. There are times when I become overwhelmed. I hear something, google it, start to read news articles, and then start to panic. How will this affect me? What will happen? Will my loved ones get wrapped up in this? What can I do? We have to do SOMETHING! Rally the troops! We’re going to war over this!
Ugg. It gets ugly. But I am getting better at it. The space between receiving information and responding to it is getting wider through practice.
In the same way that I’ve chosen to deal with traffic, I deal with rest of the world around me. I limit my news sources to those that seem the least inflammatory and urgent, like printed magazines and books. Once a week, I listen to a few choice podcasts, interviews and conversations mostly. Online, I limit my interactions to those that are fun and entertaining, and I share only that which I am personally experiencing. That’s my version of “defensive.”
I try to respond to the world around me in peace instead of reacting in anger and frustration, as much as possible. I am human, so I fail often, but I do learn.
And the rest…I let go.
This is what is bringing me more peace. This is what is making me a better person than I was. And this is how I’m trying to make my surroundings better than how I found them.