Speeding Past … Flowing Slow

When I’m driving in London towards downtown, there’s a spot where the speed limit drops from 60 kilometres per hour to 50.  It’s two lanes in each direction.  I stay in the right lane, doing 50 or a bit more.  In my better moments, I feel the world and my place in it.

Usually traffic bunches up behind me and there’s a steady flow of cars zooming past in the left lane.  Their speed is around 70 kph.  Vehicles behind me look for an opportunity to jerk left.  The car directly to my rear is probably right on my bumper.

I feel the pull of the 70 and the urge to fit in.  It’s a powerful force.  Be like them.  Don’t have them honk at me.  Be invisible.  So seductive.  But there’s another pull that’s far sweeter.  Be thoroughly myself.  Feel Scarlet move at 50.  Fell the rhythm that doesn’t seem available at a far faster speed.  Feel a sense of uniqueness.  Feel myself flowing with life, in sync, carried by a force that I can’t name.

And then there’s the rest of my day – away from roads and traffic.  Can I feel into the rhythms that support me in conversation, in eating, walking and volunteering at school?  Or do I let myself be pushed into someone else’s version of reality?

I choose to avoid toxic talk and the sense of being rushed.  I choose to linger with my fellow man and woman, to give the truth of the other person time to emerge.  My eyes can settle on other eyes rather than swerving from target to target.  My reality isn’t all crammed together.  I feel space around me.  I move with grace.

The pull of the left lane has largely faded away.  I’m happy.


Day Forty-Two … Driving Hard For Home

I left Henry and Louise’s place in Weyburn, Saskatchewan at 10:30 am yesterday.  I rolled into the motel in Eau Claire, Wisconsin at 12:48 am.  Allowing for the time zone change and maybe one hour for eats and gas, I was driving for 12 hours.  Oh Bruce, you silly goose.  When I was planning this trip a couple of months ago in the comfort of my man chair, I thought “Three days to get home from Lance’s.  No sweat.”  Wrong.

I decided that the wilds of North Dakota and Minnesota would be perfect for listening to Ken Wilber non-stop.  He’s a spiritual teacher whom I really like.  So I enjoyed about 9 hours of Ken and me.  He has so many cool ideas.  Here’s just one:

Ken talks about “The Pre/Trans Fallacy”.  His contention is that in our rational world, some people assume that anything non-rational is basically infantile, not allowing for the possibility that some behaviours outside of rational may come from a higher level of consciousness than the thinking mind.  So … I’ve been trying to convince myself that what I often do with supermarket cashiers is the epitome of maturity.  (By the way, I pronounce that word “e-pi-toe-m”, just for fun.)  When it’s time for my debit card, I plug it into the machine, which I then hold to my ear like a phone.  A brief but impactful conversation with my mother then ensues.  “Hey mom.  How are the clouds today … cirrus? … cumulus?”  I’m sure you can detect the evolved being right away.  Anyway, it’s fun, whether pre or trans.

Blissing out on Mr. Ken, I also had to embrace the world of semi-trailers and hills.  After dark, east of Minneapolis, and fortified with a cup of coffee, I was still fading some.  It felt like the road ahead was one endless hill, for at least half an hour.  Maybe it was, or perhaps my mind had created a vision of upwardness.

Earlier, knowing that a midnight arrival was likely, I passed lots of vehicles and was usually 10 kph over the speed limit.  Neither of those choices were “me”, or so I thought, but maybe I should expand my definition of Bruceness.  In the late evening, I had no more oomph for passing so I quietly stayed behind a climbing (?) semi for many miles.  Oh, for another coffee, but there was no neon until I took the exit in Eau Claire.

As you can tell from the existence of this e-mail, I made it.  And I’ll make it again today.  According to Google Maps, I’m 11 hours and 6 minutes from my home in Union, Ontario.  Plus another time zone change.  And the possibility of a border delay.  I better get going.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll write my last road trip blog post.  It’s bittersweet.  I’ve sure enjoyed talking to you cyber folks.

Day Two … NBD

It was a long day – 12 hours on the road – but miracles beckoned me left and right.  Small, dark blue lakes with expanses of white lilies.  Two Mennonite women riding their bicycles in long flowered skirts, one with a helmet over her bonnet.  Towering slabs of vertical rock, turned pink in the early evening sun.  Life was so big.

And then there was Bruce Mines, a tiny town on the north shore of Lake Huron just east of Sault Ste. Marie.  I thought it was pretty special that they’d named a place after me.  And there’s a sign for Bruce Bay!  Gosh, I’m everywhere.  Even though I couldn’t see any further evidence of Bruceness as I drove through, my rich fantasy life kicked into gear.  What if there’s a Bruce National Bank?  Or “Get your oil changed at Bruce’s!”  Or  Bruce’s Family Restaurant.  I bet they were all hiding just a block off Main St.

Along the north shore of Lake Superior, with its grand vistas and mini-islands, the road swooped, dropped and climbed.  I could feel my body move with Scarlet as we floated along at the speed limit – 90 kph (55 mph).  I got very excited when I looked in the rear view mirror to see a semi-trailer pounding down the slope behind me.  Every 10 kilometres or so, there was a passing lane but meanwhile friendly drivers were on my tail.  I decided to not let them dictate my well-being.  On I went at 90.  Then the passing lane, and the semi would blast up the hill beside me, its huge white mass blocking the entire world to my left.  I loved the power, the speed, the impossibility of that beast roaring past me.  Up and up and up.  I tell you, I just about had an organism!

Then there was my bladder.  I had neglected its needs when I stopped at Pancake Bay for a decadent chocolate peanut butter waffle cone.  They had only one size – huge!  Anyway, there I was motoring towards Thunder Bay with a liquid problem – one was building up and the other was running out.  The arrow on my gas gauge was moving towards the E.  Meanwhile I was discreetly pushing my thighs together.

I reckoned in White River that I had lots of gas and could just zoom on through.  The sign said 85 k to Marathon and Scarlet told me I had 107 left.  Piece of cake.  Surely no self-respecting retired person would stop at the station in White River.  C’mon, Bruce … push the envelope.  So I pushed, in one respect, and contracted in another.  Then another sign – 60 (compared to 80).  More squeezing.  Gosh, this was turning into an heroic quest.  Later it was 25 and 40.  I had visions of 10 k left, 5, 1, and even limping into Petro-Canada on my last fumes, with Scarlet coughing to a stop only feet away from the pump, with the nozzle just able to reach the gas tank.  Ahh.  What would I do without fantasy?  The truth was that the digital display read 18 when Marathon and I united.  That’s okay.  I had fun.

I have to admit that my first stop at the station wasn’t for gas.  I stood at the appropriate spot for quite a long time.  It would be indelicate of me to share the details so I don’t think I will.

This morning, I’m visiting the Terry Fox Memorial before winding my way through the woods of northwestern Ontario to emerge on the Prairies at Steinbach, Manitoba.  I’ll let you know all about it tonight or tomorrow morning.  I hope you’re enjoying my journey.  I sure am.

P.S. 1 … Nothing But Driving

P.S. 2 … 83 seconds, while pales in comparison to my 130 seconds achieved just off the I-75 in Michigan in 1990

Speed Limit

Around here, it’s 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph) on the secondary highways and 50 or 60 in town.  In the 20 years that Jody and I drove to London for work, I varied from 85 to 90 on the 80 kph road, usually while being tailgated.

Last week, I decided to drive the speed limit, whatever it was.  It just felt right to do that, “appropriate”.  It allows me to flow, to feel Hugo moving smoothly up the road.  It allows for a big space in front of me, and a feeling of “spaciousness” within.  Someone has said that this is the maximum speed, and I’m going with it.  Not to be right and make someone else wrong.  Not to get people to slow down in life.  Just because it feels good.

Lots of people don’t like my new plan.  Many crowd my back bumper.  Some jerk to the left to see if there’s room to pass.  But happily, other folks just hang back at a respectful distance.  Maybe there’re lots of us who want to take it down a notch or two, who’d like to glance at the cows in the field, or at a particularly symmetrical tree.

I will continue my experiment – tomorrow, and especially in a week’s time, when I’ll take a leisurely day-and-a-half to get from home to Barre, Massachusetts.  May many congenial souls float along with me.