When I drive into London from Belmont, I usually take the 401, our Southern Ontario freeway, which has a speed limit of 100 kph (about 60 mph). After ten kilometres or so, I’m ready to take the Wellington Road exit. The ramp goes straight for maybe a kilometre, and then around a slight bend is a 50 kph (30 mph) sign.
As I veer off onto the ramp, I lighten the pressure on my gas pedal and gradually decrease to the 50. I sense I’m in a natural rhythm of blending with my environment. It feels good, like I’m flowing from one chapter of my life to the next.
Other drivers disagree. Usually I’m tailgated on the ramp and the crowd of cars behind sometimes reaches double digits. Once a fellow swerved onto the paved shoulder to get by me. At the 50 kph sign, a second lane appears, with traffic lights shortly thereafter. If the light is red, a vehicle or two has time to blast by me on the left and then slam on their brakes. If it’s green, a convoy flows past, with most of them then flashing into my lane, since lots of us are turning right at the next light.
I let myself feel the pressure of the tailgating, and my fear. It’s definitely a part of life. But it’s very sweet to maintain my flow in the midst of impatient drivers. I’m the source of my actions, not them. Overall, the whole thing is a meditation and I’m pleased that I choose to experience it regularly.
I ask myself if I’ll have the same grace as I leave this planet. Will I let myself feel the body diminishing and the mind clouding? Will I let the words of William Shakespeare linger?
Eyes, look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace!
And lips, O you the doors of breath
Seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death
Or will I vote with Dylan Thomas?
Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
The ramp awaits
Soon, or not soon, my turn signal goes on