Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Art of Patience at 30 Miles an Hour

Around Thanksgiving, Teresa and I decided it was time for us to climb another rung up the recreational vehicle ladder. It was something we had discussed off and on for several months. The discussion usually went back and forth between a motor home and a fifth wheel trailer. We ultimately chose the fifth wheel route, the purchase of which I have outlined in an earlier entry.

Of course, to tow any trailer, we would need to get a truck. So we traded in our beloved 2006 Subaru Outback on a 2006 Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew cab truck with dual real wheels and a diesel engine.

Needless to say, the truck does not get the same fuel mileage as our Subaru. Every day, I try all kinds of tricks to coax another tenth of a mile per gallon in mileage. For instance, I start out slowly from a stop sign or stop light, especially when the engine is still cold. I also take my foot of the gas - as much as a block away - when approaching a stop sign or a red light.

In addition to that extra tenth of a mile per gallon (or even two), I have gained something else: a growing sense of calm. I no longer feel in such a rush to get somewhere, and I realize that one or two minutes really doesn't make much of a difference in the greater scheme of things.

In the past, I used to get more irritated with drivers who would speed up and cut in front of me. I used to go a little faster just so they would have to get in behind me. Now, because this truck is geared more for towing than it is for quick acceleration, I couldn't keep another vehicle from pulling in front of me if I wanted to. More often than not these days, I don't want to.

I watch cars speed by me, then see them idling at the next red light when I catch up to them. They didn't seem to gain very much.

The ancient fable about the tortoise and the hare has the oft-repeated mantra of "slow and steady wins the race," but racing is far from my thoughts. Instead, I think more of slowing down and being more aware of the world around me, slowing down to see and experience my world instead of racing from one day to the next as if I were late for an appointment.

I spent many years trying to escape the world around me, so this is a new experience for me, and I have some work yet to do. So far, though, I like what I see. I am reminded of the opening lines of Simon and Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song: "Slow down, you move too fast. You've got to make the morning last." Now, that's a goal to hurry toward.

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