A long time ago, at another time in my life, my commute to and from work was a large part of my day.
That commute was the most frustrating part of my day. I remember feeling tired, bored and generally angry about a lot of things in my life. I was in a car I did not like or liked to pay for, on a highway that was perpetually under construction and choked with traffic and I couldn’t find any form of solace in the time alone. I just wanted to be anywhere but there and really didn’t want to be where I was headed; generally, in either direction. I know, it sounds sad and depressing. It is sad and depressing to write it down too but there is a bright side; a silver lining, so to speak.
You will have to trust me.
On occasion I would meet my friends (colleagues from work) for some social engagement after our long days at the office. I was always envious that they lived in the city and I had to commute so far to my home in the suburbs but at in those moments I didn’t care. It was simply nice to be among friends and enjoy the time together. Those “meetings” always made me happy, feel good about myself and filled my life with some intensity and humour. I would always leave those occasions with a sense of excitement and purpose. We were young so we spent plenty of time solving the world’s problems and closer to home the problems we perceived with our industry and our employer at the time. We inspired each other to think and we challenged each other to act even if only in a metaphorical sense. It was our form of fun and release.
Feeling better yet, I am?
Travelling home later than usual one evening from one of our more lively sessions I was lost, for a change, in the world I had just left when I noticed flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. Yup, it was a cop. The Ontario Provincial Police had their eye on me and I was clearly oblivious to some jurisdictional violation that drew attention to my vehicle. The first instinct was to look at my speedometer. I wasn’t weaving in and out of traffic. I was “going with the flow” or so I thought. Yeah, ok, I realized was driving a little fast but so what, it happens all the time. Who drives the speed limit anyway, I thought to myself? I noticed as I slowed down that I was well within the acceptable limits and hey, I was following the flow of the other cars. I think I even said that out loud. Shrug.
At that time my car was red. It was a two door sport model. No sedan for me in those days. I pulled over. The officer went through the typical process; licence and registration, where were you this evening, where are you going, have you been drinking? Oh no! As a precaution would I mind taking a breathalyser test? Of course, I responded. Immediately! What else was I going to say? That’s really not the point of the story though. The breathalyser was negative; naturally. We were, after all, responsible young men and women (and still are, responsible, that is). The conversation that followed was one that made me laugh.
It went something like this.
No ticket, whew.
I was setting the flow as opposed to going with it. Hilarious. Suffice it to say I paid attention, that evening, to the flow and my speed the rest of the way home. It did make me think about how I conduct myself in my life though. Up until then I thought I was a “go with the flow” kind of guy but the more I thought about it I realized that I am not. Actually, I never have been. It has had its advantages and its disadvantages but it just feels right to me. Going with the flow is easy, isn’t it? It’s comfortable. It’s risk free. To me there is a valuable lesson there. Society has rules to keep us safe and ensure that our actions do not harm others. This is good. Society also breeds self imposed rules which keep us safe. This is not so good.
Ask yourself. Do I go with the flow?
What’s your answer? It’s ok; ask it. It will scare you and that is good.