Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Drivers Ed

Well, maybe not everything. I learned some things on the play ground, some in the locker room and some under the bleachers. But, those are stories for another time.

Mr Anderson was my high school drivers education teacher. I remember having a crush on him. It was his calmness and concern for our safety that touched me. He felt like the protective dad that my father wasn’t. I took all Mr. Anderson had to offer.

He taught me, and my car mates, about becoming velocitized. (My computer tells me velocitized is

not a word, as does my dictionary, but they are wrong. Just ask Mr. Anderson). He explained to us, his newest batch of 16 year old drivers, that when you drive 50 mph for a period of time, your body adjusts to that rate of speed making you feel you are going slower than 50mph. So you increase your speed to 55. That feels fast for a while. Then it doesn’t. Now you speed up to 60...for a while…And on it goes until you hear yourself saying, “No officer, how fast was I going?”

This happens, according to Mr. Anderson, because you are velocitized. Your body acclimates to the rate of forward momentum and you want to go faster. Mr Anderson strongly cautioned us against falling for this illusion of speed. In his paternally protective voice he suggested we slow down, instead of speed up, then return to the original safe speed of travel. He said we would all be much safer that way.

Years later, this word, velocitized, came back to me. He wasn’t just talking about safe driving. He was offering us some life advise. Don’t move too fast for too long or you will lose yourself to the speed. At high rates of speed accidents, of all sorts, happen more easily.

I notice how I am velocitized. Not driving, but in my everyday life. I adjust to a certain pace, feel I am not going fast enough (doing enough), so I speed up some more. Sometimes I speed up because I compare my self with someone who is doing more, passing me, so I speed up again. Sometimes I feel guilty if I am taking in the view, singing to the radio, wind in my hair. I tell myself I will never get ‘there’-be a success, write my book, be on Oprah(oops, missed that chance)-on time or ahead of the person behind me, so I put the petal to the metal. Soon I am going too fast for my own safety.

My x husband used to say we had to keep up with traffic. That meant if everyone was going 80 mph, we did too. (If they all drove off a bridge would we?) I used to argue that if we used cruise control, stayed at our chosen speed, “they” would all pass us and we would have the road to ourselves. He didn’t agree. The goal wasn’t to have the road to ourselves, it was to keep up.

So what to do?

Here is what I am test driving. I am finding that to avoid velocitation I have to trust I will get to where I need and want to be...all in good time. That I can’t fulfill my dreams by rushing because I can’t even feel my dreams when I am flying down the highway. To slow down I need to breath more consciously. I also need do only one thing at a time (I know it sounds like blasphemy).

When I do this, I get to where I am going...a lot happier and aware of how I got there.

Here’s to Mr. Anderson and to slowing down!

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