Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: driving

Aggression or “Don’t Drive Angry!”

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.

Aggression in drivers.

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.

Travel Anxiety Ended: Podcast Roundup #3

Oh, my goodness, you guys! Another Podcast Review is here already! Are you excited? I am. I have successfully ended my trouble with travel anxiety through technology.

I have a lot to share, but this time I’ll do it slightly different. It took some effort to get the computer out and get started today. I’m tired after yesterday’s adventure. It was worth it though! Breakfast on the pier with a friend and then a walk around Balboa Park and a fancy lunch with my son. Not to mention, the six hours of podcasts I got to listen to. Bonus!

Let’s see…getting out the playlist on my phone…

This time, since I heard I’m going to write ONE sentence about each of the nine episodes I listened to, but there was so much more.

Practicing Human – Simplify This Moment

You can’t see the whole movie at once, only one frame at a time through until the end.

Secular Buddhism – 142 – Wisdom and Fear

The point isn’t to be fearless, it’s to be brave.

Rationally Speaking – Understanding Moral Disagreements with Jonathan Haidt

You CAN understand other people’s ways and needs without accepting them as right for you.

Practicing Human – Energetic Discharge

After a traumatic experience (physical or emotional) we all must rest, and then move.

EconTalk – Don Boudreaux on the Pandemic

The science doesn’t tell you what to do, it simply gives you data (risk assessments) that humans must use to make decisions and judgements.

People I (Mostly) Admire – 35 – David Epstein Knows Something About Everything

Shortcuts that show us instant visible progress hamper our long-term development.

Side Note: As I sat in 15mph traffic, I saw a sign that said “60mph Zone Will Be Enforced” and laughed out loud at the image of someone panicking, attempting to get around people and stay at 60mph to avoid a ticket. Those comical signs are all over the freeways, as I drive ten miles an hour over every week while people angrily blaze around me. How exactly are they doing this “enforcement”? It’s not trivial. I may write a whole post about just that in the future.

Practicing Human – Growth, Death, and Birth

Death makes room for birth, both of which are uncomfortable.

The Creative Nonfiction Podcast with Brendan O’Meara – Episode 266: The Expansive Nothing You Have to Fill with Kristen Radtke

Do the bad work to get to your good work.

No Stupid Questions – 59 – Do Dreams Actually Mean Anything?

It’s the feelings that we continually dream about that we should be concerned about, not the objects and people we see in our dreams.

I did it! I didn’t think I could for all of them. There were a few that I started to apologize about and just write two or three sentences, but I sat back and thought again. It was possible to put it into one, concise sentence. The cooler part is that there was a lot more to those episodes that I took notes on and might write about in the future. And I found at least three new books to add to my TBR list!

Yes, I went back and added up the hours/minutes of each episode. And, yes, it was hard because I’m not that bright when it comes to numbers. It totaled up to almost six hours, give or take few minutes. I spent a lot of time in the car and not a minute was agonized over.

Technology has ended my travel anxiety and made driving much more peaceful in so many ways, but that is another post my friends. Have a great day and go listen to some podcasts while you get where you’re going. You won’t regret it!

Want to read more about the podcasts I’ve heard? Go back to the beginning and check out my first Podcast Roundup #1. At the bottom, you’ll find links to more.

Eyesight

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I didn’t know I was having vision problems until the DMV pointed it out to me. A pair of glasses fixed it.

Driving at night was becoming a problem for me. I wasn’t sure if it was the desert darkness on the highway late at night, worn out from long rehearsals, or just the fact that I was getting older, but it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to see at night. The glare of the headlights coming in my direction made it impossible for me to focus. My sons would keep an eye out on the road for people walking along the highway at night. Why people would choose to do that, I will never understand. For self-preservation alone, why do they not carry a flashlight or have something reflective on?

I continued to make the drive, carefully, only because I didn’t need to read the signs to know where to go between the theater and home, but I was starting to limit my excursions to daytime activities. Driving in unfamiliar places in the dark was becoming impossible. This must be part of getting older, I thought, although I would never have admitted it out loud.

As my 40th birthday approached, I found a driver’s license renewal from the DMV in my mailbox. Opening it, I figured I was going to have to pay the fee and be done with it. I’ve never gotten a ticket or been in an accident. To my dismay, I found I’d have to go in for a vision test. No problem, I thought, at least I don’t have to take the test again. Don’t make fun of me, but I barely passed the written and behind-the-wheel test when I was 16! I live in mortal fear of the day I have to study and take it again.

I made an appointment at the DMV and headed into the city the following month. I covered one eye and read the letters on the board ahead of me, as instructed. No problem. When I covered the other eye, the world went blurry. I could only read the first and second line! The DMV employee had me read it off the computer. “Sometimes the computer screen is easier.” She told me. I still couldn’t read it.

It was the strangest feeling. I’ve never had vision problems. My mother always wore glasses and I used to tease her when I was a teenager. Coming home in the middle of the night, knowing she couldn’t see the clock without her glasses, I’d tell her it was only 10:30 when she would groggily ask from her bed when we had woken her. My brother and I thought we were so clever.

I stood there at the DMV trying to focus on the letters to no avail. The DMV worker was so nice about it. She passed me but suggested that I get glasses right away. I made an appointment the next day. My vision was that bad. When I got my new glasses a few weeks later, I was absolutely amazed at how much better I could see. At night, the lights no longer fuzzed out and blinded me and during the day, I could see read the signs so much sooner.

Strange to think I hadn’t noticed my vision getting worse, that I believed I was seeing the world as I had always seen it. How could I have not noticed such a dramatic change?

That’s how we see life. The world around us is only our personal reality, shaped by time and experience that only we can have. No one else sees it just the way you do. It builds up slowly, day after day, experience after experience. And at any moment, something can come along to change that perception, someone can alter your perspective with a word. One experience can show you that you are missing something, and another can offer you new insight. Your whole world changes.

I could have stood there and argued with the DMV worker. There must be something wrong with your machine! Maybe there was something in my eye, I was tired, or it was allergies. I could have stood there holding tightly to my own perception of reality and never gotten any help. I could have continued to squint into the night and cause an accident or gone through life not knowing that there were trees on the top of that hill.

Hold lightly to your perceived reality, it makes it so much easier to change. There is so much we miss by holding on to the past and what we believe to be true, never changing.

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