Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ice and slow

I had a really interesting experience Friday evening while commuting home from work. Calgary had a snow fall in the afternoon and by rush hour the snow had melted and then frozen. The main roads were slathered with ice. There were many collisions and abandoned automobiles. The Calgary area was in gridlock big time.

What is normally a twenty minute drive, took me four hours. Most of the time I was not moving and when I was moving, it was more like creeping than driving. I was going so slowly the speedometer didn't move!

I had plenty of time to think and observe my thoughts and feelings as well as other people and what was going on around me.

I was fascinated by the varied array of emotions I felt: bored, content, relaxed, frustrated, grateful, excited, happy, worried, hopeful, curious, compassionate, thrilled, elated. Each emotion related to whatever I was focusing upon. For example, I felt bored when I thought of all the other things I could have been doing. I felt relaxed when I focused on my breathing. I felt grateful for my snow tires. I felt compassionate while praying for others.

It seemed like everything was in slow motion. Time stretched. Perhaps it just seemed this way because I am so often moving in fast forward? Our regular fast-paced ways were brought to a HALT. Conditions made it too dangerous to proceed as usual. With this in mind, I got to thinking about our planet. Normally I just zip along that road without thinking about how amazingly easy it is to get from A to B or the costs of doing so. Have we made it too easy?

Although not always in our awareness, so many trees, animals and people face far greater life-threatening conditions everyday. Are we slippery sloping ourselves off this planet? Do conditions have to become personally inconvenient before we STOP, pay attention and make changes?

Have you ever taken the time to do something that you normally do really fast (e.g. eating, brushing your teeth, shopping) really slowly? What happens when you do? Do you see any benefit to yourself or to the world in doing so?

Slowing down for those four hours allowed me to see more, assess my choices more carefully and explore new ways of responding to situations and events around me. It was neat to see that many people got out of cars and buses and walked. They exuded liberation!

Going at the speeds we usually do, it is easy to simply whiz by all the other metal boxes on the roads and not pay attention to the fact that there are people just like ourselves driving them. This gridlock situation offered a different opportunity because we were all going so slowly. I deliberately looked around at the other people, smiling and even laughing at times. I felt camaraderie with my fellow traffic-jammers. We were all in it together. We all had the same choices--misery, amusement, etc.

After about 3 and a half hours of being in traffic, I reached a downhill in the road. Several cars and buses had pulled off to the side at the top of this hill. Few drivers were attempting to drive down it. They waited until the driver ahead was many car lengths away before attempting the descent. I contemplated pulling off to the side but I thought, "Even though many other drivers are not attempting this hill, I have no reason not to try (so far I had not been slipping). If I do start slipping, then I'll create a new plan."

I went for it!

It was an exciting and scary challenge. I went slowly and cars from way behind me were slipping close to me. I made it down the hill perfectly and all the way home safely.

Click on the title of this blog to read and view a CTV news article and video about this weather story. There are people's comments as well...all the different perspectives are very interesting!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Jeannene,

    Thank you for stopping the time for me so I could think about my experiences! The last time I did this was At April 30 this year when there was an accident in The Netherlands related to Queen's day. I wrote a blog then because of all the people who made up what happened, while no one new exactly what happened.
    On your link, people comment who have not been driving, but still give advice or criticize, and others are defending themselves.
    I really have a preference reading your story. I can even imagine you behind the wheel waving to others sometimes..! I'm glad you made it home save, and it is an great example of how scary doesn't have to mean "bad"...


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