Your busy readers, rushing around between jobs, family, holiday events, and shopping up to our socio-corporate expectations, probably won't have time to read this. Too bad.
Since Oct. 10, when I blew a brain gasket and began a sixth-month medical non-driving advisory, I have spent considerable time being driven around by those I have driven in the past. It has given me the luxury of watching the faces of other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and cops, something I had scant time for when the wheel was in my hands in the combat zone.
What do I see? Urban neurosis. Fear. Stress. Anxiety. Aggression. Competitiveness to the Nth degree. And, of course, the usual: Incompetence, ignorance, stupidity, ego-centrism, and "Pedal-to-the-metal, if anyone is going to be first at the next multiple car pile-up, it's gonna be ME! attitude."
Now, I'm quite certain that most of those individuals, away from the metro-mob environment, in a non-driving, calm debate would agree that the cost of urban neurosis is staggering: deaths, loss of loved ones, loss of businesses, lifelong injuries, unquantifiable pain and suffering, groaning health care costs (most don't realize much of the cost of an ICBC claim is downloaded onto our public health care system), the trauma experienced by everyone in the health care system, the gigantic cost of turning new BMW's into pop cans, and on, and on.
However, you know what else I see? Exchanges of smiles. Waved or honked thank-you's for a break in traffic. Motorists stopping to help each other when they have a problem. Young drivers (yes, I said young drivers) driving competently and courteously refusing to be rattled by those who honk and swear, and tailgate, and flash high beams instead of engaging their brains.
I see more and more not drinking and driving, using Operation Red Nose instead, for example. I will miss driving for Red Nose this year, one of the season's highlights for me in former years.
So here is my Hanukkah, Eid, Kwanzaa, winter solstice, Christmas and New Year's wish to you: take a deep breath, remember life and health are precious, pain, misery and financial ruin are a pain in the ass. There is nothing more effective you can do to achieve the benefits and avoid the costs than just be happy and share that happiness with your fellow human beings. It takes fewer facial muscles to smile than to frown. Winks, nods, waves, smiles, laughter . we all have them in our arsenal, too. Just use them. Happy trails and happy holidays to all the readers out there in Newsland.
Ryan Lake, via email
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