Driving in the Slow Lane

By Rita Milios

Driving in the Slow Lane

Fingers impatiently tapping the steering wheel, I grumbled at the slow driver in front of me. “Move over, would you? I don’t have all day here!” Then, when the road widened to two lanes, I quickly zipped by him, breathing a sigh of relief. “Now, that’s better,” I said.

But was it? Taking another deep breath, I noticed how much tension had crept into my body during that brief episode. My shoulders were hunched forward; my hands were tightly gripping the wheel. I had even been holding my breath. Wait a minute, I thought. What was my hurry, really? I was not late for an appointment. I was not rushing to any emergency. I was simply headed home from my daily exercise class. Why was I feeling like I had to beat an invisible clock or to set a speed record?

Habit. That’s all it was, I realized. I had been rushed so many times before that I had simply gotten into the habit of rushing – even when there was no need. Wow! I thought. How much unnecessary stress have I added to my life? How many days, hours, weeks or months have I reduced my own life span because of the unnecessarily high levels of stress hormones that I’ve been flooding my body with…for no reason…other than habit?

How ironic, I thought, that years ago I had challenged my friends about just such a habit gone awry. It was my senior year in high school, and I’d just enrolled in a new school in the Midwest, after moving away from my sleepy Southern hometown. As was the custom, before school each day, the students cruised around the large circular hallway that connected most of the classrooms. It was a time to meet and greet, see and be seen. “But why are we walking so fast?” I asked my new friends. “If we’re not really going anywhere, what’s the point?”

What was the point, indeed? Apparently, there was none. They could offer no reason – other than habit – as to why it was necessary to turn a casual stroll into a power-walk. It was quite funny to see the expressions on my friends’ faces as they realized what they had been doing. Needless to say, they tried out my slower, Southern pace and found that not only did they enjoy the slower pace; it made chatting while walking a lot easier as well.

Yet now, these many years later, the joke was on me. Somehow I had succumbed to the “faster is better” attitude and had become engrained into the habit of rushing for no reason…other than the fact that I had become accustomed to doing it.

Well, no more, I thought. If at no other time, I will break this habit of needless rushing while driving. I vowed then and there to become more mindful, more aware of what I was doing and to make conscious choices that made driving a more relaxing experience.

One such choice has become a particularly rewarding as well as relaxing experience. Whenever I am able, I make it a point to drive in the “slow lane.” I move over for those drivers who are rushing to wherever it is that they feel a need to rush to and take in a deep, easy breath. I remind myself that on this day, I am not in a hurry. On this day I don’t have to rush. Somehow, knowing that it won’t happen every day, that this slow, relaxing drive won’t always be possible, makes the experience even more pleasurable. So I sit back, relax, smile and let the rushers zip by me. I savor the freedom and the peace of knowing that, just for today, I don’t have to rush. I can enjoy the ride.

Today, I am driving in the slow lane.

About this writer

  • Rita Milios Rita Milios, The Mind Mentor, is a psychotherapist practicing in the Tampa Bay area. Often writing on topics of personal and spiritual growth, she also teaches intuitive training workshops to professional and lay audiences.

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