Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nature vs. Navigator

You know the driver who, during a long car ride, throws in a CD and keeps replaying one song until their passengers (should they be blessed with any) are forced to calculate the optimal speed and location to minimize injury should they somehow, accidentally, leap from the car on purpose.

Well, I am that driver.

My typical speed is 40 miles-per-hour, pretty much everywhere except the highway where my top cruising velocity is a consistent 67 miles-per-hour. I try to stick to the slow lane.

I make no apologies for it, although I understand you might think people like me ruin your commute.

You've probably seen me smile and wave as you passed by. I know you are emphatically trying to give me a driving lesson using pantomime and single-digit sign language. I don't hold it against you. I'm just grateful it wasn't a true crash course.

At that speed you travel, I worry you won't have time to react to the unexpected.

After all … I've seen you on 787 tooting on a recorder as you drove along on your evening commute. And you with the traveling tag sale, barely able to see out of your '70s-era sedan, on your way, presumably, to Target, I'm looking out for you, too. I'm not going to detail all the ladies (and the occasional man) I've seen applying mascara as they inch along Central Avenue. I know there's not enough time and you have someplace to be … preferably yesterday.

Actually, driving at the pace I do, I see a lot of things I'd ordinarily miss.

I don't demand amends from my alter-ego drivers, some of whom even feel the need to scan radio stations, listening to only a few notes at a time before moving on. Other people would tell you to settle on a song and let it play out.

Not me.

I feel your pain.

Obsession can be terribly misunderstood. People tend to classify them … usually in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Oh, I jest.

It's not as if I hear voices. My rituals don't get in the way of my leaving the house. I don't talk to myself. Much.

It's just the way I'm wired.

I assume others are wired similarly. Why else would commercial radio stations play the same songs hour after hour? Why would Home Box Office offer the same movies day after day, month after month, and in an on-demand basis virtually indefinitely? Let's just say I've lost track of how many times I've seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

Whose day isn't ruined when they arrive at work and find their usual parking spot is occupied?

Even when I try something new it ends up being a constant. There was the year I made scarves, followed by the year I made pillows, which turned into the year I made quilts. There was the week I ate nothing but soup because I finally learned to make one I liked. I'd rather forget the month I made cookies by the gross.

It was stress relieving. Until the scale became unreliable, ticking up several pounds.

Then I found the joys of exercise.

Yoga. Yoga. Yoga. Shred. Shred. Shred. Running …Um. Never mind. I'm not doing that unless someone chases me.

Of course, I made excuses for my proclivities. I rationalized.

I used to think that to really understand something, I needed to be immersed in it. Sticking in a toe and testing the water won't suffice. I need to swim around and get pruny.

But I realize now that's not it, really. It's simply that I find fascination in new things and comfort in repetition.

I believe heredity has a hand in it, too. My kids argue over which of their songs gets played over and over again as we ease on down the road. Ittybit wants Track 2 of Selena … The Champ wants Track 17 of Juno. Alternating between the two alleviates the fighting and appeals to their sense of fairness.

And it gives me more than just the comfort of repetition during our commute. It gives me hope that one day, when they get cars of their own, they will also find it in their nature to take their time and enjoy the ride.

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