I think I’m a good driver.
I’m careful, alert and follow traffic regulations. That’s why I get annoyed when other drivers aren’t the same way. When someone cuts me in traffic without signalling, speeds down a busy intersection, or is reckless in their driving, I get mad. But, I don’t just get mad and then move on. After all, I have to pay attention to the road. No. I stay mad. I start cursing under my breath and I look around me, wondering why the other drivers aren’t visibly foaming at the mouth, too.
But before I go much further, I guess I should explain that driving in Quito, or in many other parts of Ecuador, can be challenging. Up until recently, many drivers didn’t go through a certified driving school, have a “real” license, or follow, much less know, the traffic regulations in the country. There was no speed limit and getting to where you were going faster was the only law of the highway. However, things are changing. There are now known speed limits and hefty (for here) tickets for not following the speed limits, and a culture of courtesy is being cultivated on the road. After having been away for six years, and having returned now for almost two, I can tell the difference. In fact, the country’s slogan, accompanied by a variety of programs and carefully crafted advertisements, is “Ecuador del buen vivir”. Roughly translated, this would be something like, “Ecuador, a place for living well”.
So, in this year of “letting go of what’s not working’, and embracing the idea of “living well’, I have decided that getting angry at other drivers just doesn’t work. Just like constantly trying to figure out why people, particularly administration, do certain things at school that don’t make sense and make life for everyone less than pleasant, doesn’t work either. First of all, the mental space that is used up worrying or being angry, takes my full attention off my driving (teaching). Getting even a little distracted by my angry thoughts could potentially cause me to make a mistake resulting in an accident (or an angry word to a student or colleague, which sometimes can’t be taken back and can cause unnecessary damage). Second of all, it makes the start to my day less than pleasant. Driving (Teaching) can be stressful enough. I don’t need another trigger to make it even more stressful. Third, I have found that if I do the things I want others to do, such as being courteous, then others will start doing them too. And if they don’t, then I can practise forgiving them for not being ready to do so. That is so much more pleasant than not letting people pass you on the highway just because you don’t want them to (or letting their words or actions interfere with effective teaching and learning), and accepting where they are in their spiritual growth.
Without meaning to, I am getting closer to writing about some other sensitive topics that I keep avoiding. It’s curious how a post that started out about driving has turned into so much more. The potential of writing to reveal thoughts, feelings and ideas you didn’t know were there is incredibly powerful. And, that is leading me to a lesson I might do with my students this afternoon in writing club. But I’ll stop here before this post segues into something else entirely. Maybe for next time…
Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesdays