Peace at the speed limit

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“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. … According to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” – 2 Peter 3:8-9,13 (NASB)

You might say I liked to drive fast.

The year 2002 was something of a watershed year for my traffic record. As a play-by-play sports announcer for my college’s student radio station, I traveled a lot, operating under the mistaken impression that 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on the interstate was acceptable. It took four tickets that year – including two in one day – to lead me to ease up on the pedal. However, I still sped, just not as far over the limit.

Then I had kids. Suddenly, getting to my destination in a hurry seemed a lot less important. I started driving the speed limit whenever the kids were in the car.

After about a year of this, I realized something. When I had the tots in their car seats and I drove the speed limit, I was calmer in general. I changed lanes much less often, took slights from other motorists much less personally, and I didn’t feel compelled to slow down with a skip of a heartbeat when Officer Friendly (or State Trooper Friendly) appeared around the corner. So I decided to drive the speed limit all the time. Call it a driving meditation. (Thich Nhat Hanh gets a shout-out here.)

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Be flexible. Sometimes you have to go a little bit over the speed limit, to avoid bad situations, stay with the flow of traffic, etc. It’s about being peaceful, not obsessive compulsive.
  • Don’t sit in the fast lane on the highway. I’ve heard of people who insist on driving in the left lane to prevent others from speeding, but all that does is enrage people.
  • I like to get in the lane that I need to be in and stay there whenever possible. It’s just one less thing to worry about.
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