On the average day, my mind moves fast. I wouldn’t say it races. That brings up images of going around-and-around a track. My mind doesn’t move like that. It’s more like my mind is constantly reaching out and grasping information - pulling it in and and reaching out again for more. It’s kind of like a chameleon’s tongue on fast forward. I swear it moves so fast sometimes that I hear it buzzing.
One of my favorite waltzes to dance to is Brent Faiyaz’s Poison. It clocks in at a cool 117 BPM. The standard BPM for a waltz is 29.
I recently drove to Ohio to visit my mom. I’m usually a 95 MPH on the highway kind of driver (I use Waze and a radar detector to avoid tickets. I’ve never gotten one - knock on wood).
But on the day I left for Ohio, Chicago was in the middle of a late April snow storm (If you’re not from Chicago you probably think I’m joking. But we seriously got 4-5 inches of snow), so I was traveling at a frigid 25 MPH for the first hour and a half of the trip.
You’d think I’d be loosing my mind because of the slow speed, but I was actually grateful; I’d installed my summer tires the week before. Essentially what that means is that if the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and/or there’s any snow on the ground, the tires have no grip. Driving at 25 MPH with the snow coming down, car sliding about and traffic cutting me off felt more like 125 MPH.
I clear the snow just as I pass the Indiana border and the temperature shoots up to 48 degrees shortly afterwards. I shift up through the gears and find 95 MPH pretty quickly. No traffic anymore. Maybe the snow, or threat of it, kept everyone inside. Smooth sailing.
Until I hit a major pothole.
Boom! My car shakes like I’d just run right into a tree. I slow down and start pulling over, assuming I’d blown a tire at the least. But no warning lights or sounds. No sign of tire deflation. Nothing. The car sounds fine. It drives fine. I guess I lucked out on that one.
Back up to speed, flying down the highway, leaving everyone in my dust.
When I arrive in Ohio I check the front tire to see if there’s any damage. Sure enough, the sidewall is bubbled out. Not like totally blown, but noticeably damaged. I ask my stepdad if it’s safe to drive on and he says, “you’ll probably be ok.”
Ok is good enough for me. That’s all I really wanted to hear because:
1) My car doesn’t have a spare tire. A spare doesn’t fit over the giant Brembo calipers (see above pic).
2) Stupid me runs Pilot Sport Cup 2s (super sticky, low profile tires) during the summer and no one keeps them in stock. The last time I blew out a tire, I had to wait 2 days for it to be delivered. And that was in Chicago. Who knows how long I might have to wait around in Ohio. I’ll replace it when I get home, I think.
A day later, as I’m readying to leave, I asked my stepdad about the tire one more time. “Should be fine,” he says. “Just don’t hit anything else.”
OK. I think. I’ll take it easy. Speed limit the whole way. Nice and slow.
That’s how I started out. And that’s when I discovered the strangest thing.
70 MPH in good weather is really slow. I mean, like slow motion. Slow enough that I could look at my surroundings instead of just planning my next maneuver around an upcoming car. Slow enough that I could read billboards and watch cows and horses frolicking in pastures. Slow enough that I could daydream and lose a couple of miles.
That 25 MPH difference freed my mind. My jaw. My grip on the steering wheel. I realized that when I drive, I’m completely focused on the end result (getting to where I’m going) and not on the current moment (taking in my surroundings. Enjoying the alone/quiet time). I’m all in on the quickest, most efficient way of getting from A to B.
And is there anything wrong with that? I’m not sure. I know that efficiency is sometimes warranted. But with efficiency, we’re less concerned about quality and more concerned with speed. And while efficiency can lend itself to producing more or getting more done in less time, it doesn’t lend itself to quality.
Yes, if your wife is giving birth and you’re driving to the hospital, efficiency is probably warranted. Getting to my parent’s house a little early when they’re just going about their normal day and not really waiting on me… well, what am I gaining? Or, better question: what am I losing?
2 things I take away from this experience: 1) speed affects our experiences 2) our goals affect our speed.
Let that bounce around in your mind for a minute. I plan on writing more about those two topics in the upcoming weeks.