Traveling at the Speed of Life

Amy - Newport News, Virginia
Entered on April 29, 2008

I need to make a confession. I am the driver most others hate. I drive the speed limit, slowing down the morning commute to work. I begin to brake as soon as I see a “Reduced Speed Ahead” sign, forcing everyone behind me to slow down. I stop at yellow lights, preventing others from speeding up to make it through. Yes, I do see the angry faces and the frustrated gestures of the drivers behind me, but they don’t faze me. I make no apologies. I believe in driving the speed limit because I believe it sets just the right pace for me to enjoy my ride. Life has its own versions of “Reduced Speed Ahead” signs and yellow lights that set a critical pace for my life. This speed—fast enough to not waste time, but slow enough to take it all in—makes life pleasant.

“Reduced Speed Ahead” signs usually indicate an upcoming change in scenery. Shortly, the road will narrow, make its way through a neighborhood or shopping area, or take a dangerous curve. The sign serves as a warning: slow down and pay more attention. Driving down Butler Farm Road, as I approach the school zone, the slowdown allows me to watch the delicate dogwoods dancing in the wind, the sensational sky as the sun sets in the distance, and my carefree college classmates crossing the road.

In the same way, as major life events approach, I try to slow down so I can pay more attention. I refuse to allow stress to take over and cause me to miss out on the joy of the moment. I don’t want to miss going to my brother’s JV soccer games or eating breakfast with my roommates because I am too busy with schoolwork and graduation plans. These small but significant events are just too important to speed past.

Yellow lights, like “Reduced Speed Ahead” signs, also mark transitions. Before a light changes to red, a yellow light warns drivers to prepare for a stop. I don’t mind the interruption; waiting through a red light doesn’t bother me. Looking around at the scenery is even easier if I am stopped. I continually remind myself in these moments that my destination may have more appeal than my current location, but it cannot have more importance.

Just like driving a physical road, I have to take time-outs from my busy schedule to appreciate my surroundings. Otherwise, I can easily find myself focused on life goals, and missing out on life in the process. As I navigate through my days, each stretch of road is as important as the next. It defines who I am. Speeding through the curves and flying down the straightaways en route to a distant future goal, I miss out on the present.

So, as I poke along the road, driving exactly the speed limit, I relish the fact that I haven’t missed anything along the way, and I pity those zooming past me who have. I believe in driving the speed limit because the journey makes the entire trip worthwhile.