There are many lessons one can learn by just being on the road, in the middle of the traffic. Let’s look at some of them and see how they apply to life in the long term too:
Know Your Speed / Do Not Compete: It is good to know what you are comfortable with and what speed you want to go at on any given road. Do not compete with others and do not change your speed just because someone else is speeding up and might pass you by or might overtake you.
Long Term: Do not look at what others are doing in their life. Have your own guiding principles in life. If you start comparing your life and your circumstances with those of others, then you’re done. You will spend your whole life competing and there will always be someone else you can compete with or beat. Life will become a never-ending meaningless competition.
Know Your Direction: It is important to know what direction you are headed in. Having a GPS makes it easier if you do not know on your own.
Long term: If you have done the homework already and know what your direction and priorities are in life, then that’s brilliant. Follow those diligently.
Otherwise, work hard and learn from great wisdom teachers. Let them show you the possible directions to take in life. Make them your GPS. It will cut down the time you take to get on the right track. You can learn on your own too. Whatever works. The important thing is to find your right direction. And you will know when you find it, because it will inspire you and lift you up and make you blissful. You will not be anxious, stressful, angry, frustrated or upset with others or with yourself. If these negative emotions are present, then it means you have not yet found your direction.
Share the Road: These days I see these signs at some places thanks to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). I love that sign. Its a great way to encourage people to accept others.
Long term: In the world of Zen Buddhists and mystics, there is no ‘other’. There is only you. So when you share yourself and your possessions with others, you are sharing with yourself. This is one of the most critical lessons on the path. In fact, this is also the destination. The moment you begin to see the oneness of yourself and others, you have had a glimpse of the eternal, the divine, the universal. Its so easy, yet so difficult.
We have huge goggles on our eyes through which we see the world. These goggles are the ego. We see everything through the ego. And the ego says, “Me first!” The ego’s job is to get everything for itself. The others are not important.
So, try to find yourself in others and when you do that, sharing will not be an option, but a necessity.
While driving, I find a lot of people who, whenever they can, slow down and give way to others. I admire them greatly and try to learn from them.
Safety First: This cannot be over-emphasized. Slow down and keep an eye out for people entering or leaving your lane and other stuff happening on the road. This ensures your and the car’s and everyone else’s protection.
Long Term: There is no need to hurry in life. Hurry comes from greed, which comes from a lack of proper perspective. And this connects to what we mentioned earlier about knowing your speed.
Slow down in life. If you keep running after things, one day you’ll discover that you missed out on many of the most important things in life. And sometimes we discover this very late. So, slow down just enough to keep an eye on things around you. You will still reach your destination. That’s a given. So many people try to go too fast, whether in traffic or in real life, even when there is no need to. And in doing so, not only do they miss out on important stuff, but they also fill their lives with anxiety and stress.
Like I used to do a few years ago, I see so many people driving down the road as if they have to go and put out a fire or something, when in fact, there is no need at all for the hurry. They’ve got nothing to do at home but eat or smoke or watch TV.
Keep Your Mind Free: Do not think too much. When you are driving, just drive. The more of other stuff you try to do while you are driving, such as texting or calling someone on the phone or putting on music or watching something on TV or YouTube or such, the more the chances of getting into an accident. You’ll get plenty of time to do all that when you get home.
Long term: Mediate. Sometimes, just sit and breathe. Feel your breath come in and go out. And when you do something, just do that. Don’t try to “multi-task”. I know some people who pride themselves on their ability to multi-task.
I agree with Gary Keller who, in his great book, The One Thing, wrote that multi-tasking is the surest way of messing up more than one things at the same time.
In the long term, it is the quality of stuff that you do that eventually matters and that gets noticed, not the quantity.
So, don’t think too much, give your brain some rest every now and then and conserve that energy. And then use that mental energy on other things and you’ll see how much more efficient your thinking becomes, especially if you do one thing at a time.
More from the road later!