Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Ton of Metal

Taking things for granted results in mismanagement at best and destruction most often.

I had just dropped my wife off at the airport and was returning home.  It was around 5:15am and the roads were peaceful and empty.  Considering how peaceful it is at such an early hour I wondered if my fellow interstate drivers were considering the same sense of black top serenity.  No sooner than the sounds of waterfalls and ambient music started as I considered this roadside peace I was reminded of reality and humbled quickly.  Without a turn signal a car in the adjacent lane cut me off.  Naturally I just gave him a little flash with my brights, as if to say in car language, use your blinker next time.  I didn’t lay on the horn or high beam him for 30 minutes.  There was no anger or aggression in my action.  Again I was on the interstate doing about 70mph and there was no traffic.  Much to my surprise I was greeted quickly with brake lights and had to slam on my brakes to a point of doing a mere 20mph.  Again, we were on the interstate at 5am, there was no traffic around warranting such a volatile braking.  It was obvious what his gesture meant.  It was obvious he didn’t appreciate me high beaming him.  It was also obvious that he was pretty reckless so I got in the other lane and continued homeward bound.  This should be the end of my little story, however, he sped up quickly and got so close to my bumper that I could almost not see his headlights in my rearview mirror.  His high beams were on and I was a little surprised by his recklessness at such an early hour.  I decided to ignore him, flipped my mirror up to dim the high beam lighting, and continued driving. My best logic told me that if I did he would leave it alone, however, and again, I was wrong and surprised.  He followed me like this for probably a couple miles, although it felt much longer than that.  Eventually he had to get off and go to wherever it was he was headed and it ended.  What he lacked in common courtesy he made up for in inspiring a thought though.

Isn’t driving fascinating?  I mean, be honest, get past the fact that you drive a ’92 Land Cruiser with no a/c and only one working power window, and consider the complexity of what is really going on when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle.  There are several discussions happening in the automotive world currently concerning the lightest production vehicle, however, to generalize it, let’s agree that your vehicle is around 2,000 lbs at a minimum.  This guy was driving a Dodge Nitro, which weighs in at 4,162 lbs.  It is powered by gasoline.  The engine is lubricated with all sorts of oils.  The amount of flammable liquids in this 2 ton machine is enough to do some damage.  Then you have the problem of velocity.  We listen to the radio, steer, and know what the appropriate amount of pressure is to either decelerate or accelerate.  We have the understanding of distance to keep a safe amount and not just end up running into objects.  I could get a lot more involved and detailed; however, this is a pretty good starting point for me.  Do you see how complex it is to drive a vehicle?  It is complex and we do it like second nature, often not ever considering the complexity of it all.    When we are not appreciative of these things and are not grateful for all that goes into driving we take it for granted.  When we take it for granted we abuse the good to cause bad.  It is very good to drive, it is good to have all these systems and liquids working in such a way that we can transport ourselves at a greater efficiency to places we desire to travel to.  When we do not appreciate this and take it for granted though we abuse the good and cause it to become bad or destructive or discouraging.  That’s the story of my angry morning driving friend.  He took the complexity, full of dangers and risks, and abused it becoming destructive in behavior and what could have been destruction physically if something would have happened. 

I’ve carried around that thought for hours and internalized it in such a way to consider, what is it that I take for granted and when I do what does the destructive output look like?  When you see or hear yourself engaging in destructive behavior you most likely can use deductive reasoning to lead you back to the source of your behavior, a mismanaged good.  A good taken for granted.  If it is taking things for granted that leads to destruction than the inverse is simple.  The inverse logic would lead one to believe that being grateful leads to constructive behaviors.  We all have things we take for granted, but do we consider what taking it for granted causes?  Are we destructive beings?  Are we grateful?  Are we appreciative?  Do we take more than we should for granted?  So many questions, but isn’t that the point?  To be self-reflective and consider such things is what sets our minds apart from that of an animal, even if sometimes we act like one, most notably a jackass on the roads. 

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