Sunday, 27 December 2015
I have just got home after being away for Christmas. I had to drive down the M40 and around the M25 to get to my family in Seven Oaks. I haven't driven on the motorways for some time and the trip down on Christmas Eve was dreadful. The rain sheeted down for the entire trip and there were strong winds to contend with too. But what really shocked me was how rude and aggressive other drivers were. Most of us were down to about 40mph because of surface water and no visibility and yet others were weaving in and out of the traffic, driving at insane speeds for the conditions. Others drove right up my backside to force me to go quicker. Some were driving without lights and so were virtually invisible. It was terrifying.
It made me reflect on my normal mode of transport and the difference between the two. When your average speed is 3mph the world is entirely different. There is no point getting impatient at a slower boat, as the most you can be delayed by is 2mph. If someone does something silly in front of you, there is no point in getting into a rage as, unlike a car, you can't yell at them or blast your horn and then speed away. You are likely to be sharing the same bit of canal for quite some time as you amble along and so it is best to be forgiving. When there are traffic queues at, for instance, locks, instead of sitting alone, fuming at the hold up, you leave your boat and meet up with other crews at the gates and help each other through, passing the time of day as you do.
This makes travelling a pleasure and a communal activity, where as driving a car seems to be a lonely, competitive, stressful challenge. In fact this can be a metaphor for life in general. Do we want to be lonely strivers, struggling to get ahead of the rest and resenting anybody that gets in our way? Or would we prefer to amble through life, helping people we meet and having a laugh and a chat along the way? I have lived both lives and I know which makes me happier and healthier!