"Life is a highway"

>> Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It really does seem like one.

Now, WHICH highway it is, is a more complicated question.

I spent the entire weekend at the beach, which means my day starts with an early rising and a nice drive to Long Island. I start out by crossing Staten Island, over the Verrazzano bridge I go, dash through Brooklyn, pass a corner of good old Queens... and finally start screeching to a halt with the momentum still sliding me past Nassau county into Suffolk county where I finally roll into my "private" parking spot on Johns beach. Yes, I'm there so often that I assigned myself a spot! And under a single tree non the less!! (Also I have connections there, don't forget.

As you may note, I have quite a ride. It takes about an hour, which isn't that bad considering that it is entirely highway driving and I don't have to mess with street lights and other similar idiocies. I also know the flow really well and thus when to change lanes in anticipation of a patch of traffic.

I was returning rather early on Sunday afternoon, around 4pm, so the traffic was still heavier than during my usual driving time (around 7pm) and I had some time to contemplate life and such. Damit, thinking is just not my preferred activity choice, as I like to advertise, but the traffic made me captive audience to my own thoughts. Even the music blasting was not keeping the pesky thought processes subdued.

First, I was wondering why Californians are such cry babies about their "traffic". After living in LA for a couple of months, I don't understand why California is considered a state with the worst traffic. Fine, they have lots of cars. Fine, they're highways are 7 lanes wide... But to them traffic is if you are forced to drive at SPEED LIMIT due to "congestion". NO. That's not called traffic, that's just normal driving. OK, OK, it does get bad, but even in the worst moments you are still steadily moving at least at a 35 mph speeds! OK, its annoying, but you're MOVING! I guess you never hear anyone saying that New York City has a big traffic problem... but I guess that's because BEING PARKED on a highway does not fall in the category of traffic. I guess because that's called STANDING! Honeys, your little L.A. traffic problem is nothing but a suckling baby compared to the seven headed monstrosity that is NY traffic!!!

Than I was thinking who was it that said: "Life is a highway..." I dont' remember reading about it in Vogue so I was not sure. But anyway, if life is a highway... would it be a highway in NYC? The gray, attitude filled, stop and go obstacle course? or L.A.? The congested, wide, palm tree lined hazy and hot? Or... maybe the Autobahn? No speed limits, old world charm with German tin around your ass propelling you forward? Which highway would resemble life the most?

I don't know. I'm asking.

Maybe "life is a highway" doesn't really mean to resemble driving on a specific highway. Maybe it just represents the process. You're driving; sometimes you're alone on the road, but mostly with others, and in traffic. Obstacles can pop up at every corner slowing you down. There could be an accident on the side of the road, slow grandpa drivers, lane closures, weather conditions, etc.. etc.. etc... You start out the same as everyone, in your car turning the ignition key, and ramping on to the highway... but then it starts. Each driver begins making their own decision. Drive fast, drive slow, change lanes, change again, pass this car or that, with the end result being getting to your destination in the shortest amount of time.

Its like some kind of unspoken race. To be successful, to be loved, to set up your life the way you want. Even if you're not of a competitive nature, you're still pressured. There is only a certain amount of time given to you for this ride, that is life.

Every decision we make has an effect. Do you know which lane is the fast lane? Is it the left lane? Or maybe in this particular stretch of the highway you'll go faster in the right lane?? If you see a window of opportunity do you think to long about taking it? And than realize that your hesitation made you miss out? Do you act to hasty and realize you made a rash move when you should have waited and now this mistake will cause you a delay? Do you make ten more rash moves to try to remedy that first mistake, and come out on top? Or maybe these rash moves delay you even further erasing all hope of ever being able to "make up the lost time"??? Do you stay calm and without losing hope proceed steadily forward? Do you know when to keep the speed limit and when to risk and exceed it for a while? Or do you feel invincible and speed all the way, realizing that you are so griped by the adrenaline that you cannot stop even if you wanted to?

For me personally, its hard to answer these questions. I'm not sure. I've experienced many of those turns. I've always thought I knew exactly the kind of person I was, but I'm not sure how I will react when the road changes. When I'll be put into a new driving scenario, I'm just not sure how I will react.

All I know is that when I got my driving license at 17, I told myself that I will speed everywhere until the first time a cop stops me. After that, I would start driving "normally". Let me tell you, it was a crazy summer. I was surprised that after all that speeding, I was finally stopped only in September. I was going 75 mph in a 55 mph zone, but since it was my "fist offence" the cop was nice and ticketed me only for a 10 mile overage. Did I learn my lesson? Well, depends what lesson was it that I had to learn? I haven't gotten a speeding ticket since than. Pretty good 10 year track no? But this by no chance means that I do not speed anymore. I speed like crazy. I bought a sporty red car just to make myself slow down, since I know such a car is a police target. But what lesson DID I learn after that cop gave me that first ticket??? I don't know. That's the point. I don't think I learned the lesson I was meant to learn since I still speed. But I must have learned something since I haven't gotten another ticket since!?!

Once again we come back to this thing about learning lessons. Why is it so important? And IS it really that important, since we obviously CHOOSE which lessons to learn?? and when to learn them? Do we even have TIME to learn them so that this knowledge is relevant to our drive on a highway that is life? Since unlike my weekend drives from Staten Island to Long Island repeat themselves giving me an opportunity to memorize each turn and each traffic patch, LIFE's highway is NOT like that. We drive it only once, we drive it "blind" not knowing the turns before hand. Scary... or exciting? I don't know.

But one thing for sure kids: Better to be moving steady in a Ford, than be on the side of the highway in a freshly busted up yellow Ferrari. (Or is that just an opinion?)


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