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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Breathe.

Lessons Learned

Road Rage, the Adult Equivalent to a Temper Tantrum


When driving, have you ever had someone follow you so closely that it seemed they might climb right into your trunk?  Although, your speedometer insists that you are maintaining a suitable law-abiding pace, her face in your rearview mirror clearly and vehemently disagrees. You could almost watch the fire engine red creeping up her neck in flagrant, irrational rage except that keeping your eyes on the road is a higher, albeit less entertaining, priority.  What is that but sheer impatience turned radically ugly. What drives that crazed, possessed fury laser-focused at the stranger ahead, who has done nothing but drive in full accordance with the law? I believe that we are forgetting how to breathe, despite the simple anatomical fact that breathing is an involuntary process which is controlled by the brain. It seems we frequently revert to toddler temper tantrums when we settle in behind the wheels of our cars. While grocery shopping one day, I witnessed a full out temper tantrum by a child who wasn’t going to get a toy at the grocery store.  The answer “no” was more than he could take, so on the floor he flailed with kicks and screams and a bright red face. He held his breath but continued his flurry of chaotic movements. (Not dissimilar to our road rage neighbor.)  His mother stood quietly, patiently there, her eyes perusing the shelves for the best-priced tomato paste. She was breathing. She maintained calmness and stilled her heart by pausing to breathe. When the young chap realized that the intended outcome was not to be, the tantrum downgraded and then fizzled at which point, he began to breathe again.  “No” is the word we cannot easily accept, especially when it thwarts what we want when we want it. No, you cannot drive faster when I am driving slower. Tantrum. No, you cannot push me to drive faster when I have decided to drive the speed limit. Tantrum. No, you cannot make me change my mind about speeding by shouting at me in the rearview mirror. Tantrum.  So with fire and daggers flying from your eyes, you spew hate in my direction, simply because you cannot travel the speed you wish. You don’t even know me and I am a little bit afraid of you already. Adult temper tantrums are ridiculously unflattering and bespeak a desperate narcissistic immaturity that is horrifically disappointing. If you require immediate medical attention, please call an ambulance as they are licensed to exceed the speed limit, and we will all pull over to let you through. If, however,  you are running late for your hair appointment or the ballgame or even work, please just set your alarm for a few minutes earlier thus allowing time to breathe. Breathing will certainly make you a more respectable citizen and will incidentally help make the world a kinder, gentler place for us all.