Driving Again

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

April 6th, 2008 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

I’ve been driving again. And remembering why it scares the shit out of me:

When I get into my little red car and head off into the big bad world, I am inherently putting my life not only in my own hands, and not only in G-d’s hands, but in the hands of people who, shall we say, ought to be taking public transportation straight to a therapist’s office.

Take the SUV driver who stayed plastered to my bumper — while driving in the right-hand lane, I might add — when there were five other lanes for the driver to choose from. Cars in those lanes kept zipping past, while this driver stayed focused on initiating anal intercourse with my Honda. (At last! A new breed of sexuality in San Francisco.)

Then there was The Lane Entrepreneur — a lime green car that nearly clipped my side mirror, while passing on the right shoulder of the bridge.

I can count at least one incident of someone driving recklessly and dangerously close to my car every time I spend, oh, two minutes on a freeway. Three to be generous. The ridiculous thing is, I often end up catching up to them down the road — me going at the same steady speed, them zigzagging terror across lanes of traffic.

It seems more important for a good chunk of people to move fast, fast, fast than to be mindful of the very lives of those around them. What does this kind of behavior, and the fact that it is so common, say about our society?

It makes me furious.

For years, it also made me paralyzed by fear. Given that the course of my life was dramatically altered by one driver’s negligence back in 1997, going to that club/party/ beach/community event always evoked the question, “Is it worth risking my life?” Unless I was feeling especially bold or lonely, the answer was a resounding “no.”

Ladies and gentlemen, step forward and behold: The Incredible Shrinking Life.

I couldn’t continue to live like that, I knew, and so a few months ago, I took a gigantic spiritual breath and began heading out into the world again. But it’s not easy. Hell, it’s not even easy to cross the street!

Two weeks ago, I was attempting to do just that, when I realized I wouldn’t make it all the way across before the light changed. (I’d been a bit confused and distracted, looking for a particular restaurant.) So I turned on my heel and began walking back.

When I was about a lane away from the sidewalk, the light turned green for the cars, and they began hurling forward. While I was standing smack in the middle of two rows of cars. I mean, who are these people? “Stop! Stop! Stop!” I screeched, flailing my arms around. The cars barely paused long enough for me to run past them.

Anyhow. I know I can’t control the behavior of anyone other than myself, so I’m seeing this as an exercise in letting go — driving (and, uh, walking) as safely as I can, saying my little prayers, and leaving the rest up to Providence.



Comments

Greg Katz April 9th, 2008

Driving in this world is a crazy experience. As I read the post my jaw clenched with each example you gave of crazy drivers. My favorite (I’m being cynical) are those that drive 95 miles per hour, cut in and out of lanes, play driving leap frog, only to be caught at the same red light as me. Talk about hurry up and wait!

I know they say that after we’ve been driving a while it becomes automatic, but that doesn’t mean we should be unconscious. Congrats on venturing out in the unsure world. It’s a jungle out there so we all have to make sure we’re not hunted.

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