Making the journey from Vermont to Deleware recently, I made a significant realization: cruise control makes me anxious. As the hours crept by, I began to think of driving under the influence of cruise control as a metaphor for life.
This concept of cruise control as a way of life is what got me thinking. I understand now, that a button that restricts how I drive makes me feel wildly out of control. The mere mention of the idea of cruise control always elicits the same response; shoulders creep up to my ears, heart pounds, sweating ensues.
My husband is a firm believer of utilizing cruise control on the open interstate. Not long into our drive, he reiterated how easy it is to engage, disengage, how his hamstrings don't cramp up. We've been down this road before. I did try cruise control one time. After a few minutes, nearly in a panic, I pumped the brakes with a sigh of relief.
Sure, setting the speed for 72 in a 65 may prevent a speeding ticket. But, how would I know what it's like to really step on the gas? How would I know what it feels like to stomp on the brake?
This is where the metaphor comes in. I do not live my life at a single speed. I need to feel the fast, the slow, the high, and the low. I need to feel the exhaustion and sense of accomplishment that comes from digging deep to get up that hill. Sometimes, the incline is more steep than I'd anticipated, but, sooner or later, (sometimes much later), comes the easy downhill part. How can I feel exhilaration or despair if I live life at a constant speed? An invariably safe, controlled rate.
True, travelling in the left lane can prove risky. I consider what I choose to pass. Of course, ride in the right, and I may be passed. Then, there are the flats. Also neccessarry parts of the journey.
Walking down a windy city street on this trip, I observed a small pile of leaves on the sidewalk in front of me. A sudden gust stirred them into a circle. Around and around they went. A few snuck out here and there, before the burst of wind died down. The rest were right where they had started, back on our path. We can get stuck in traffic circles. Mostly we make the correct turn. Sometimes, we have to drive around more than once. Occasionally, we are spit out going backwards. The important thing is, that we dare to enter the traffic at all.
Driving through the snowstorm on the way back home, I passed the odd overturned vehicle, or car freshly stuck in the snow, with the passengers still inside. I felt the familiar quickening of my pulse. I also felt the ache in my right hamstring. I enjoyed feeling that ache, that control, and drove on at my own speed.