the art of sticking to one's lane in heavy traffic

Slow and steady? Or fast and furious? Which one is more sustainable and better for your sanity?

the art of sticking to one's lane in heavy traffic
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

D has been attending a summer camp these past two weeks at a location that's about a half-hour drive on the highway one way.

Drop-offs and pick-ups are at peak hours, although the traffic during this season of the year appears to be far less then what we normally see when schools are in session.

Still, traffic on the highway or even on regular roads for that matter seems to bring out the crazy in people.

I get it. It always feels as if the lane we're on is moving excruciatingly slowly, while every other lane appears to be undoubtedly moving faster.

In the past, when we were younger and restless and naïve, we used to switch lanes every so often.

With time, I've come to see that switching lanes actually doesn't help much. It only adds to the stress – that constant comparison of which lane is moving faster, that feeling of lack that comes when we believe we are in the slowest lane and that every other lane is moving faster than ours, those lane switches for which we need to watch very carefully before making those shifts.

And in the end, we reach our destination at more or less the same time irrespective of which lane we stayed on.

I have anecdotal evidence of this in the sense that we usually end up catching up to many of the vehicles that try to get ahead by switching lanes or tailing others to get out of their way.

I've seen this often on North Service Rd, which runs parallel to the QEW/403 highway here. It's a 2-lane road with no passing lane for the entire stretch, except at one signal at its junction of Industrial St.

The speed limit is 60 km/h, but traffic usually speeds past at 70—80 km/h. Occasionally, there'd be someone wanting to go at 90 km/h, and they'd try to race past all the other vehicles at the aforementioned junction.

Eventually I'd find them halting at the traffic light at the intersection of Walkers Ln and N. Service Rd.

What was the point of their speeding for that stretch of 4 km from Industrial St. to Walkers Ln.? It only created an illusion of getting to their destination faster, while putting themselves and so many others at jeopardy.

I understand the need for speed, and I've been driven by it myself, especially when I worry I'd get late to pick up D from school. So I completely understand why someone might feel driven to just get to their destination as quickly as possible. Except, driving like crazy doesn't really solve the problem; worse, it only creates the illusion of getting them to their destination faster.

I find this analogy applicable to writing.

For long, I've debated between going back to work and writing. Every time writing got hard, I'd start to apply for jobs. And then I'd get no calls for interviews and spend more time moaning about that fact, before realizing that I could be making good use of this waiting period to write and add to my inventory of books and products for sale.

The current book I'm working on is another case in point. I had shelved the story a few months ago, having decided that I'd written myself into a corner.

Several times I've come back to it, and each time after reading what I'd written so far I found myself wondering why I wanted to abandon the project in the first place.

That euphoria would only last until the next time I found myself getting stuck again, and I'd go looking for other things to do — short stories to write, cooking, promoting de-weeding to a matter of emergency, something that had to be done right then and there! Anything to avoid facing what I construed as a difficult patch.

concrete road winding through a green mountain under a blue sky
choosing to stay in my lane | Photo by George Hiles on Unsplash

I'm done switching lanes when it comes to my creative projects. Yesterday I had yet another feeling of bewilderment as I went through the almost 20,000 words I had written so far on the WIP.

Why had I discarded all that work? When I read through it, I actually loved what I had written.

Turns out I can't trust my own brain, which also seems to keep switching lanes between Creative Voice and Critical Voice.

So here's the choice I made this morning. I'm going to stick to Creative Voice. I'm going to finish this book, no matter what. Critical Voice will happily point me to other ideas to work on, other jobs I could be working on, but I've got to remind myself of that precious nugget of wisdom I received from listening to Mel Robbin's TEDx talk yesterday.

I've written this down and taped it to the wall above my writing desk.

You are NEVER going to FEEL LIKE DOING all the things it takes to make your business everything it could possibly be!
~ Mel Robbins

Which means that maybe I'll never feel as if that story is any good, or maybe I'll doubt myself way more often than I can trust myself and my writings. But I'm going to keep writing anyway.