Finally, the traffic started easing up after a painful stop-and-go for more than half-an-hour. I stepped on "degas" to see the "van gogh," if you get the pun ;)
Just as I switched to the cruise control at 70 miles per hour, I had to hit the brakes. The car ahead of me in the left lane was merrily crawling along at 40. A big car. I could barely see the top of the driver's head. Could it be the cliched little old lady in a big car hogging the left lane on the freeway while crawling at surface street speeds?
I gave it a minute. The car continued at the same speed. It didn't seem like the driver would switch lane either. So, I moved over one lane right and speeded up.
As I passed the car, I looked over my left shoulder.
Yes, it was. A little old lady!
I smiled. I smiled for a long time.
I hope that nobody ever honked at her. But then given that this was in Oregon, chances are pretty good that nobody honked.
I hope the cops don't pull her over. Let her have her day, right? But then maybe she ought to get pulled over because driving at 40 when the speed limit is 65 is a safety issue for the rest of us too.
One day, hopefully without waiting for the cops to pull us over--or worse--we will all get to that stage when we will have driven our vehicles for one last time before giving up the keys, after a life-long struggle to be independent.
The rush to independence begins not too long after we are born. As toddlers, when we figure out how to walk, that is one giant leap for us. We then figure out how to run without falling. When our parents hold our hands while crossing the street, there comes a time when we protest and we want to walk by ourselves. We then learn to ride bicycles and that independence is phenomenal as puberty hits. And then come motorcycles and cars.
If we are lucky enough to get old, all those get reversed. Motorcycles are sold. Bicycles appear only in our dreams. Walk we might with canes but by then we would have run all our races. A day will come when we won't be able to drive anymore. All the independence that we fought for since those toddler days will fade away in the rear view mirror of life. We will truly understand by then the riddle of the Sphinx.
Perhaps that little old lady was having her last drive before handing over the keys to her daughter. I like to imagine that her daughter was waiting at home with a bouquet of freshly cut flowers. The old lady turns into the street and honks away merrily like the kid that she once was. She parks. Kisses the steering wheel. Gets down and closes the door. Pats the car and says "thank you." She hugs the daughter. They stand arms entwined and the old lady clicks on the remote to lock the car door. Together they turn around and walk into their home.
Such is life. I love it!
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