The other day I was driving in the rain when I had to pull over and let a friend out in a designated area.
The traffic was bad. I had my indicator on and was waiting to find a moment to pull back into the traffic. At last, a small break.
I moved out into the lane but heard tooting and tooting. At the next set of traffic lights I heard a thump on my car. A furious-looking creature with wild, wet hair had made her way over to me and was screaming at me through the window.
An unfortunate feature of my personality is that I have a temper. A normal person might have kept the window shut, but I’m always up for it. I wound it down.
She was screaming that I’d cut in front of her, and I retorted she was a selfish b…. because she could see I was coming. “There was a traffic light. Why wouldn’t you have let me in?” Thankfully the lights changed so no one was biffed.
But I thought a long time about the incident and how easily I had turned purple with rage despite all my meditation and “ommms”.
I realised something that will be familiar to you all.
At a primal level, I see myself on the road as a dinosaur in a scene from the original Jurassic Park movie, running wild across the landscape. Other cars are other dinosaurs or wild creatures, and unconsciously I feel they shouldn’t get too close.
In something that must hark back to our primitive selves moving in packs, I can see threats. If they cut in front of me I taste blood. As did the woman in the rain.
We are road territorial. Some cars are big leaf eaters (benign buses that go slow but can crush you); some are the “my car is bigger than yours” SUVs, the Tyrannosaurus rexes of the road.
There are raptors in the small but speedy cars who creep up and bite. I have a small, speedy car (oops!). I’m fine, but don’t get in my way.
The Volvo people are sluggish. Not to stereotype, but you get the idea.
David Attenborough teaches us what creatures do to each other to copulate, to get to the watering hole first or to get that banana.
We spend so much time on the road. It’s important to understand the myriad feelings there, like rage and despair and fear, in a broader context.
It’s what those dinosaurs felt on the savanna, moving forward season by season on what we now call “the road”.
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