Driving and traffic are such great teachers. They also tell us much about ourselves.

Many years ago in Orlando, I was borrowing a friend’s car for a couple days, stopped to top the gas tank on my way to my massage shift at the chiropractor’s office across town, and noticed a piece of outer tire slashed, hanging open and revealing inner tire. Yikes! As good fortune would have it, there was a mechanic right across the street. He was able to put the spare on immediately, and I didn’t have to get sweaty, dressed for seeing clients.

Except that the spare was one of those doughnut-sized tires with a speed limit of 55, and I had allowed only enough time to get comfortably across town on the expressway. Crap! What could I do but call the office and tell them I’d be a few minutes late, then be on my way. I settled into the right lane, feeling stupid at 55 as everyone passed me by. Soon, though, I realized I was quite relaxed. Wasn’t looking in the rear-view mirror and changing lanes to pass people, wasn’t watching for the troopers who would catch me pushing the upper edge of 70. I put on the radio’s soft music and coasted to work. When I got off the expressway, I was back in routine, city traffic anyway, stoplights and all and going 35, 40. To my great surprise, I arrived at the office amply in time for my first client. How did that happen? Immediately I realized I’d not been on the expressway long enough for 70 to have made a real difference anyway. And I arrived relaxed.

That night, going home, I rather enjoyed going 55 and decompressing from the day as I drove,  knowing I’d be home in no time. Made me rethink everything about my driving and the bad joke of hurry. So self-defeating.

I decided to experiment. I drove the posted speed limit, even in the quaint neighborhoods of Winter Park with their 20-mph limits. I even made it a point to come to a complete, legal stop at stop signs. All this to prove to myself that I really did have plenty of time. And I wasn’t stressing, watching for police as I did a rolling stop. If circumstances cause me to run truly late, a phone call to whoever was expecting me was my acting in the best faith I could. People understand, and things have a way of working out.

No need for stressful, risky pulling onto major roads from side-streets. See where I’m going? Hurry in traffic nets us nothing positive. Nets us only stress

More importantly and instructive, I could even use my car as a sanctuary for relaxing. Even if a car were behind me, I could stop at the stop sign, take a deep breath, THEN drive on again. Can do similarly in snatches of time at work, stopping and sitting back in my chair and taking a deep breath.

Or when getting in my car, I can sit back in my seat, let my head rest on the head-rest, take a deep breath, then turn the car on and go. Have lost no time at all and eased and preempted hours of stress in a single moment.

We can destress along the way through the day in small, truly effective increments. Hurry is itself the stress and only self-imposed. Even when doing a stretch, take your time like you have all the time in the world, even if it’s for 30 seconds.

All this from discovering a tire that had me at risk. Gifts and our good come from everywhere!

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