Lessons for a Happy New Year January 2012 Can Be Found on a December 2011 Freeway

The New Year 2012 is barreling down upon us.  The days zoom and zip past so fast…like cars on the freeway when we’re standing still (or, where I live, even while you’re driving).

Speaking of the freeway, I have had two interesting experiences the last few days on freeways as we close out 2011 and enter 2012.  One day this week, I was driving along when all of a sudden a box of…stuff…flew out of the back of a pickup truck and exploded all over the freeway.  I often see leftover debris from things like this and wonder who the unfortunate person was that had to initially drive through it.  The answer?  Me.  As I watched, box, stuffing, wood pieces (from the contents), and other assorted horror sprayed around.  I jerked the wheel left and right and emerged unscathed.  I was actually calm through the ordeal, but I remember thinking while it was happening, “This could be it.  This is how it happens.”

Yikes.

The second encounter was yesterday.  Nothing so violent.  I was driving along and saw a father and son sitting on a retaining wall by their dead car.  They looked like they were waiting for a tow truck.  The traffic was moving slowly, so I had time to see their faces.  They were laughing.  A middle-aged man and a young boy next to a dead car on a busy freeway and they looked like they were having a great time together.  In fact, they were kicking their feet against the retaining wall like schoolboys on the playground.  I just had to smile.  And I did!

And so, this anonymous nobody (me) driving on the same freeway on two different days in December of 2011 got some great new tips for January 2012.

First, stuff will come.  Out of nowhere.  Unlike January 1, 2012 which is as predictable as death and taxes, other things fly in our face that perhaps, we never saw coming.  But we can stay calm.  We can manage it.  We can consider our fate while at the same time deftly maneuvering through the obstacles.  I know it sounds trite and cliché, but so does “Drive careful!  Don’t get distracted!”  And voila.  There it was a few days ago.  The ol’ saw came true.  For if I had been texting or daydreaming when that crap flew across the freeway, I might have flown off of it.  Look folks, we don’t have the millions and billions to hire people to look out and worry for us.  When life tosses us fastballs, curve balls, and junk balls we have to be the ones to duck, cover, bob, and weave.

No matter what hurtles forth out of that truck bed this year, know that you can get through.  No matter what they say or what they do, bob and weave and give ‘em the ol’ one-two.  There.  A boxing poem for difficult days.  Where’s that knuckle ball?

Next were those two guys by the side of the road.  If my car died during rush hour on a busy freeway, I’d probably be all kinds of mad and pissed off.  But there they were.  What looked like a father and son making a memory in the worst nightmare most commuters can imagine (besides the junk flying out of that truck).  I got the sense as I drove by that they would be laughing about whatever car woe this was for the rest of their lives…long after the traffic clears and the car is back in working order.  It’s something they will always share.  When people say, “That’s so terrible!  What did you do??”  They’ll say, “We waited until the tow guy came.  We sat on the wall of the freeway and watched the cars and told jokes.  Can you imagine?  Have you ever sat on the wall of a freeway at rush hour?  It was so cool!”

Life is a lot like that experience I think.  Especially for the rest of us.  We don’t necessarily have personal drivers to take care of our needs while we hike back up the on-ramp to the bar.  We have to sit with our cars in the smog and wait for AAA.  But even in that there is a memory to be made.  Will you make a memory — laughing and smiling while the other cars zoom past?  Or will you stew in your anger and enjoy it.  I know, I know…sounds trite.  Well, think about that the next time you are in a long line at the store or the power goes out.  When you “lose control” of a situation, do you lose control?  If people don’t respond how you want, the dinner gets burned, or the car dies, do you scream and yell, flame out, or become a wreck?  Do you wish ill on others because you happen to feel ill?

Look, folks.  Nobody’s View is getting older.  Heck, this nobody is getting older.  It’s inevitable.  The days fly by and stuff comes at me all the time.  But I’ve learned to spend less time feeling bad about what is going on and more time attending to my reactions.  I’m not perfect.  At all.  By any stretch of human imagination.  I can’t even afford to hire a Somebody to tell me I am!  But I’m learning I’m not trash and debris just because it flies at me.  I’m learning I’m not a dull slow-poke just because the cars are zooming past.  I’m learning that sometimes I need to actively pursue what I need to do to stay healthy and sane no matter how much it conflicts with others.

These are the great lessons.  These are the clichés that stay for a reason.  These are the keys to life as the New Year 2012 comes down the pipe. Heck, these are good lessons even as the New Year 2013, the New Year 2014, and the New Years of infinity barrel down upon us.

And they are lessons I learned while minding my own business on those rush hour December 2011 freeways.  They came quite out of nowhere and quite unexpectedly.

Be safe out there this year, folks.  And remember, you’re no different than the rest of us.  Heck, that truth alone should bring you joy and comfort in 2012.

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