Glad of my car’s heater one early winter morning, I watch as a motorcyclist seamlessly weaves in and out of lanes. Freeway magic happens when there’s a willing give and take between motorists. No sudden flash of red from a brake light. No strident horn admonishing a thoughtless or aggressive driver. And this motorcyclist was practically gifted, riding the line between herself as a nearly-pedestrian, fragile human and we armored, powerful motorists.
As motorists, we’re insulated behind dashboard and glass, engine and headlights. Within our private space, driving can be a mindless activity, so our thoughts drift with the currents of our day – with the planning of tomorrow and worrisome leftovers from yesterday. Our agendas harry us and it’s not empty air the noses of our cars push against but time. Still, every intersection brings us together with those traveling with us for a time, those we perceive to be going in a direction contrary to ours and those who travel a path seemingly totally disconnected to our own. However, there are realities beyond that place where we find ourselves at any point in time, such as: We are never the first or the last; we will sometimes lead and sometimes follow. Most importantly, we won’t get very far going it alone (i.e., someone has to run the fuel stations, tow trucks and repair shops).
Admiring and anxious for her at the same time, the weaving motorcyclist reminds me that each wheeled machine holds at least one precious, fragile human body in its mechanical palm. We can tend to forget that it’s not really just cars and trucks we share the road with.
May we never forget we need to take care – of ourselves and others.