I have always loved to speed. I never drive so fast that I could lose my licence, and never recklessly, but rarely abiding by the law with respect to the speed limit.
I drive powerful cars and I drive safely, but I do like to open up and go fast on an open road. Driving fast like this creates a certain tension in me. I used to pride myself on being able to sense the presence of police cars and would slow down just before coming upon them on the other side of the crest or around the bend. I rarely got caught. To be honest, I think I liked the thrill of it, the rush of it, the feeling I was ‘getting away with it’.
But I have since come to realise that driving in this way creates a narrowness of focus. I am always focussed on the speedo, the sides of the road – looking for likely hiding spots for police cars – and focussed on the other cars, wondering if they are well-camouflaged or unmarked police cars.
I am also always coming up behind slower moving vehicles, so they are always ‘getting in my way’. This leads to impatience, frustration, and sometimes even internal rage.
The other day, I was driving to an appointment. It was a sunny day during school holidays, and I was driving on a highway the police love to patrol. I started off as usual and then thought: “Why not just drive on the speed limit?” So I did.
Driving on the Speed Limit – a Revelation
I drove along at 100 km an hour, instead of 120, and slowed down for road works and built up areas, always travelling within the law and abiding by the speed limits. This created an enormous ease and openness in me and my whole awareness opened up. I was not just focused on the road and on my speed, but was able to be aware of and appreciate my own self, my body and everything around me.
Because I was driving at the same speed as everyone else, the whole road opened up around me. No-one was getting in my way, I had all the space and time in the world, and I was on the road with everyone else, sharing the space with everyone equally.
I felt a great stillness, and a great sense of joy.
What do I mean when I say I felt a great stillness?
I am usually a little racy, on edge, my mind going quickly, jumping forwards and back in time… and all that even though I no longer choose to drink coffee or eat sugar! I sometimes try to fit too much into each moment and so am often running late, rushing to complete tasks and get to the next one.
In this space that I created by driving within the speed limit, just by allowing myself to drive within the road laws, rather than forcing myself to go faster to get somewhere, this raciness fell away and I was left feeling a great stillness and spaciousness within me. And I had the understanding that this sense of stillness and space is always there, living within me, if I allow myself to slow down and feel it.
And then I wondered why I had spent 35 years speeding while driving, depriving myself of this pleasure; the pleasure of abiding by the law. I realised that the law is there, not to annoy me, or to be flouted for the sake of it, but to keep us all as safe as road laws can, no matter what kind of car you have, what the weather conditions are, and how much traffic is on the road.
What part of me thinks I am above or exempt from this law? The part that thinks I am smarter, more alert, have a better car – that the law does not apply to me?
What part of the law says that it is for everyone but me? Abiding by the law comes from the understanding that we are all equal, and that the law is for everyone, equally so; and if we choose to break it, no matter how special we think we are, there will be consequences for us, as there are for everyone else.
This has been an amazing and humbling experience for me, and a great lesson in true equality. And to experience stillness within while in motion is a far greater joy than any cheap thrill (which can become an expensive fine!) that I ever had when speeding. Now, all I have to learn to do is leave enough time to get where I am going, as I drive whilst abiding by the law!
By Anne M, Northern NSW, Australia