Confession time: I have a bit of a lead foot. I like to get places fast. I don’t like being stuck in traffic, not moving forward. And I’m not always the most gracious driver, if you aren’t already ahead of me, you’ll be OK to wait your turn.
I am not proud of this. I usually end up feeling stressed and frustrated by the time I arrive at my destination.
“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” -Lily Tomlin
Moving to American Samoa may be the best thing I could have done for my stress level!
Here, the highest speed limit you will see is 25mph and most people drive closer to 20 mph.
The Samoan drivers seem to be perfectly content with driving slowly. Samoans are also the most generous drivers; they have no problem stopping a long line of cars to let a single car in. To be honest, I think sometimes to a fault. Traffic would flow more smoothly if the cars on the road would keep driving and the waiting cars would slip into the open spaces.
Whatever I think is irrelevant, though, so I have learned to go with the, choppy, flow.
Instead of getting frustrated with the slow speeds and overly-gracious drivers, I decided to embrace it. I am becoming a zen driver and I have seen a lot of improvement over the past few months.
When I’m driving and I feel like I might be speeding, I look down at the speedometer and see that I am under 25. I’m not sure when that happened, but now it is just the speed at which I comfortably drive. I don’t know what I will do when we travel somewhere else, and I am expected to drive faster.
I have become much better at leaving early enough to drive slowly and still get where I am going on time.
On the island, there is one main two-way road that goes from one end of the island to the other. In most places, passing is not an option. Once you are on the road, you are at the mercy of all the other drivers. When I get stuck in traffic, I’m sure someone is letting a car in ahead, and I try to channel that person’s selflessness and give some charity myself. I take some deep breaths, remember where I am, and choose to enjoy the beautiful scenery around me. I have even started letting people pull in front of me.
For many reasons, I have actually grown to be grateful for the slower speeds. So many people here own pick-up trucks and everyone just piles into the back, including my kids a couple times.
Many of the cars available here are older and/or damaged. Our car does not have functioning seat-belts in the backseat, the lower speeds help me feel more comfortable with my kids riding unrestrained.
I love that my kids are getting the chance to see another side of their mom. Instead of, frazzled, crazy mom-driver, they are getting the chance to experience what life really should look like: chill, calm and ready to acknowledge the beauty around us.
Are you rushing through life? Are you trying to do too much and ending up frazzled and crazy? Do you have a little race-car driver in you too?
Perhaps, it is time to slow down. Maybe that means choosing one of the balls you are juggling and letting it go for now. Maybe that means taking a walk together, with family or friends, and having uninterrupted time to talk. Maybe it means turning the radio off, rolling the windows down and breathing fresh air, using your commute to tune in with yourself.
Find what your slow-down looks like. Then have the courage to drive at 25 mph.
Samoan Language Study: