One of the aspects of life here that I’ve not really adjusted to is traffic. I admit that I was not ready for it when we moved here. No one really clued us in. I guess that it’s not the thing to put into a recruiting presentation. It was certainly avoided at all costs during our tours of the area. I am so amazed that one stalled vehicle on some remote off ramp somewhere off the beaten path can still created gridlock five miles away. I doubly amazed that a fender bender on the opposite side of the interstate can back up traffic for miles on my side of the freeway. I heard all the reason for it from poor road design to too many cars on too few roadways. I’ve seen so many ridiculous attempts at solutions. Van pools, fast trains, light rail plans and even an ill fated attempt to build a monorail have all been touted as the magic pill that could eliminate our traffic woes. All of these seem futile when where dealing with SUV driving, environmentalist minded, global warming worriers who won’t even carpool. That’s a whole other observation of mine. I know these are not solutions because I’ve been to other major cities with traffic issues and they all seem to get where they’re going in the midst of greater distances and far more vehicles. The truth is that we here in the great northwest have no idea how to merge. A former southern Californian once shared that observation with me. I’ve seen it to be true lately. People don’t understand the concept of merging here. I don’t think it was ever taught in drivers ed. It might be that for so many years (pioneers days I mean… before 1970) there weren’t nearly the vehicles to merge with. Covered wagons don’t really need the extra lane on I-5. The Donner party was not really anticipating anyone passing them on the right to beat them through the pass. Maybe there weren’t as many vehicles, so natives to the area never need to know how to merge. But they do now. It’s pretty simple actually, I mean the whole concept of merging. It takes courtesy on the part of one driver and decision for the other. It takes the realization that we’re all going the same direction and there’s no extra prize to the one who reaches the end one car length ahead of the other. It may be that we’re all frustrated by the inability of area lawmakers to allow a NASCAR track to be built here so we’re taking it out on others. Whatever the reason, people don’t do it. It’s ironic that in the kingdom of nice, leaving a car length between you and the one in front is seen as a sign of weakness.
As often times happens, I see parallels between daily struggle and the spiritual realm. I find that people in general have a difficult time merging. It’s a concept that many people struggle with. It’s the same concept though. Merging takes an awareness and yielding to others on one hand and a willingness to move forward for the other party. We’re all on this journey. It’s not about first. It’s about finishing. It’s about getting ourselves and everyone we can across the line. Those who have advantages would be very useful on the journey when they gave some ground. Others would help themselves and everyone around them by taking advantage of what’s offered and stepping up. I’ll admit, merging is difficult when you’re surrounded by others who aren’t interested in the concept. Many aren’t, but if you’re patient, watchful, and willing, someone will leave an opening. Take advantage of it.