Friday, March 29, 2013

slowing down

I have two primary ways I can drive to work: the faster way and the slower way. Of course, I can find other routes if I have to run errands on the way, but these are the two most direct for regular days.

In most of the years that I've worked here, I've taken the faster way: four-lane roads with speeds of 60-65 (despite the posted speed limit of 50 most of the way). Lately, I've been taking the slower way: two-lane roads with speeds of 30 (despite the posted speed limit of 35 most of the way).

The first route goes past businesses, shops, office parks. The second past houses, schools, and churches. The second route has two school zones where I slow down to 20 mph. Despite that, I probably only add 5 minutes to my commute.

I started driving the second route because all my children (and thus, grandchildren) moved out of the state. Since they are gone, I mail a lot of packages: birthday gifts, books, candy for holidays, surprises for spring break or Halloween--the kinds of things we would do something fun for if they were still here. The nearest post office is along the second route, just as I am getting past the houses and churches and schools. As I started driving that route more frequently to mail packages a few times a month, I started noticing something different about me when I drove that way. I felt happier. I felt nicer. I got to work in a better frame of mind.

At first, I resisted the urge to come the slower way, worrying about time. But as the difference became more noticeable to me, I began to choose it. Yes, I have to go more slowly. Yes, I have to slow at school crossings--and sometimes even stop to let children cross! But on the fast road I am immediately thrust into the rushing pace, the jockeying for position, the judging of which lane will be faster and allow me to get through the most green lights. I find myself, on that route, competitive and irritated at other drivers. That doesn't happen on the slower route. I've decided the five minutes are worth it for the rest of my day.

Today, I was a little later than usual leaving the house. I only saw two boys walking to school. They were probably late, but they didn't look unhappy about it. They looked like brothers, similar in looks except one bigger than the other. They had backpacks on that looked almost as big as they were. Their hands were stuffed in the pockets of their hoodies so that their fists stretched the pockets down, the ways boys will do and mothers despair over. I watched their walk for a moment. They weren't running, but they had that boy walk that I can only describe this way: each step was an exclamation mark. Purposeful and full of energy this last day of school before spring break.

I'm glad I drive the slower way. Today, those two boys gave my morning a lift. That's worth five minutes.

No comments:

Post a Comment