Monday, April 25, 2011

80 seconds in the slow lane

If you’re driving on a two lane freeway you can lumber along with the big rigs or try to keep up with the crazy speed demons. You can also dart between both lanes passing everyone right and left. But it looks like most drivers try to find a speed and stay with it. The times I’ve been out past Barstow on the I-15 or I-40 I’ll be in my Toyota Pickup which doesn’t have an impressive top speed. I would usually set the speed control at about 75 or if the terrain was flat enough 80. I’ll stay in the faster left lane going past big rigs until I see someone coming up behind me. Sometimes I’ll be going along trying to match the sped of the fast lane. The little truck won’t be able to take it. I’ll turn off the air conditioner for more power to the engine. Finally I’ll get an opening and move right. I’ll switch off the cruise control and feel the truck slow down. There is relief as I move slowly along with the other slow vehicles for a bit. My hands relax on the steering wheel and even the truck seems to be relived. But if I stayed in the slow lane all day it would double my travel time. I have to eventually move back into traffic when it’s clear enough.

I used to look at two desirable lifestyles extolled popular media and present this “would you rather” choice to friends. Would you rather have Fortune and Glory (from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) or Excitement, Adventure and Really Wild Things, (From The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)? I don’t remember what any friends choose. But I remember always wanting the latter. Sure when Indiana Jones said: “Fortune and Glory, kid. Fortune and Glory” it did sound like a cool lifestyle. But I was 20 or so when I told anyone who’d listen that I wanted Excitement Adventure and Really Wild Things. The idea of surprises, chaos and fun thrilled me.

It wasn’t long until I was married. A son followed nine months later. And in 1996 we left with two children for Budapest, Hungary. We came back with three kids plus one more on the way. After that we dealt with childhood cancer and then the loss of a child. Within all of that were movings, job changes, vacations, and all ways of stressful things. That was all in the first 10 years of marriage.

Reflecting back I looked at 1995. That year I didn’t change jobs and we didn’t move. We didn’t travel farther than a neighbor island. Prajna got Pregnant with Naomi. In all it was a halcyon year. In the freeway of life it was 80 seconds in the slow lane. Maybe we needed that year to prepare for 1996 where Naomi was born and we went to Hungary.

Now it’s the spring of 2011. I’ve recently changed jobs and we’ve just moved. The past couple of years have not been chaotic but definitely not calm as Prajna was working early hours. I homeschooled the children in the morning and worked the rest of the day. Now she’s a stay at home mom again. There has been healing through time from the loss of Naomi. The children are all toilet trained. In a way it feels like I’ve merged into the slow lane for a bit of a breather. The truth is I don’t want Excitement, Adventure and Really Wild Things any more. Maybe I outgrew it or maybe had my fill of it. Or maybe I don’t want the chaos that always accompanies it.

I don’t know if we’re in for another one of those halcyon times or not. We will have teenagers for the next ten years. The washing machine broke yesterday. But however long this break lasts I’ve learned that even 80 seconds in the slow lane can be enough to take a deep breath and press on.

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