This is a series of posts surrounding my goal of focusing on patience in 2017, specifically my retreat day of patience on January 5th. To read more in the series, click on the "patience" tag at the top of this post.
“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”
A few years ago, when I was working for the university, I bought a scooter. It wasn’t about making a statement; it was about utility. My work commute was minimal—a mere four miles each way through city streets. The scooter’s 90mpg was extremely attractive when I owned an insatiable gas-guzzling SUV and petrol prices were out of control.
Driving the scooter actually helped me become more patient: the bike maxed out at 65 miles per hour and it wasn’t robust enough to drive on the interstate. It was slow and steady transportation, a drastic change from my default posture while on the road.
I drive fast.
I value my time and driving fast permits me the opportunity to save time. So I speed. I hang in the fast lane on the interstate. I race to make it through a changing traffic light. I weave back and forth between lanes to gain the spatial advantage. In my current job, I drive all over the tri-state. When trying to make three to four appointments a day, spanning hundreds of miles, you tend to drive aggressive and at a considerable rate of speed.
In the past months, any good driving habits formed during my scooter days have fallen to the wayside.
Unfortunately, this makes me a different person when I’m behind the wheel. I’m angrier. I talk about other motorists. I saw uncouth words. My rage is greatest when I observe drivers that pay no attention to their surroundings and show no courtesy to other motorists around them. It’s crazy because I’d normally give the benefit of the doubt to obliviousness if it takes place elsewhere, but it sets me off when I’m driving. The only explanation I can provide for this is that the car obscures the human behind the wheel so I’m less gracious.
Yes, if I’m truly to improve in my spiritual walk and my patience, I need focus on the way that I drive.
On my day of patience, I really have no other option but to drive slow. The snowfall of that day dictated a slower pace. I was immediately aware of this when I left my house and reached the top of my street. While the major roads were plowed decently, the side streets hadn’t been touched. I hit the breaks and skidded an additional five yards. When driving in the snow, I’m forced to keep my attention focused just 100 yards ahead of me lest I get in an accident. I stopped looking farther head to the pattern of traffic lights and I just focused on driving deliberately.
And it’s a good thing.
On my day of patience, I catch nearly every red light. I even get stuck at a train crossing (I had no idea that they still ran trains on those tracks). While tempted to switch lanes to pass the slower driver in front of me, I held back. I even paused to allow some people in crosswalks to cross the street. This kind of driving is against my nature but I’m embracing it.
It’s another lesson for me on this day of patience: there’s no massive benefit for me to drive fast. I waste enough time in my day and eliminating those distractions would be a much better timesaver than ten additional miles per hour.
I’m going to drive a little less quickly moving forward. It’s a good thing to do. And I was just pulled over for speeding last week.