Life in the slow lane

Slow driverI’ve been saying a lot lately that it seems like Dover is slowing down.

I’m no speed demon, but when I can sing Hey, Jude from beginning to end before the woman in front of me manages to complete the right turn into her driveway, then you know that there’s a problem.

Still, I’m thankful today to be reminded of something I read several years ago from David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College Commencement Address, about our response to situations just like that:

“The point is that petty, frustrating [stuff] like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m going to be [angry] and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way, and who…are all these people anyway?

…The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.”

– excerpt from a reprint of Wallace’s address in The Best American Non-required Reading 2005

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8 Comments

  1. Monica said,

    September 3, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Welcome to lower slower Delaware Cheryl! 🙂 Perhaps you just aren’t in slow mode yet after your summer down the shore and driving around MD?

    • scheirmad said,

      September 3, 2009 at 9:06 pm

      You know, now that you mention it, driving in NJ does kind of rock.

      On a related note, I had great fun today on the way home from Open House at Wm Henry blasting the Smiths…in my minivan.

      [Should I get a vanity plate that says, “LOSER”?]

  2. Andie said,

    September 3, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Nice post!

    • scheirmad said,

      September 3, 2009 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks–I don’t always remember what I read, but that one has stuck with me lo these many years.

      I still get grouchy in the post office line, though…I’m a slow learner, I guess.

  3. scheirmad said,

    September 3, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Did either of you happen to hear that Western Samoa is converting from driving on the right side of the road to the left? Imagine what kind of freakish traffic problems that’s going to create!

    For more info, see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125086852452149513.html

  4. September 4, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    […] Thursday on my other blog (Scheir Madness), I have a “Thankful Thursday” entry. It’s my little effort to cultivate a habit of thankfulness despite the […]

  5. Monica said,

    September 4, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    I hadn’t seen that Western Samoa was switching the driving sides. I read that article and found it to be very interesting. I did drive in the UK so I have some experience on the left side, but you do have to keep telling yourself in the beginning to stay left. It does get easier and I didn’t have problems really switching back to the right when coming back to the US. I’m not sure how older people would deal with the switch.

    • scheirmad said,

      September 10, 2009 at 4:21 pm

      My only experience with other side of the road driving is when my friend Carolyn went to Ireland to study one summer that we were in high school. The first day, she said, one of her American colleagues was hit by a truck. Oy. And ouch.


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