Her Honda, with the massive gator head on the back window, rode his rear bumper up the five-lane highway. I estimated the lead car was going about five miles over the speed limit, which in my mind is more than acceptable on a major freeway through a metropolitan area. When he didn’t move over into one of the faster lanes, which were wide open, Gator Girl blasted around him slowing down just to the left of his driver window to show him her middle finger. Then she sped off after cutting sharply in front of him.
I have lost my hardwiring to be a city dweller full-time. Watching that young gator-loving woman unfurl her anger hurt my heart. Something in her figured such actions were completely acceptable. Is it because she drank in a huge cup of some nerve stimulating caffeine before she hit the road? Or maybe she just found out, on Valentine’s Day, her lover of ten months was breaking up with her? Or did a sense of disconnection and anonymity take over? She would never see this person again so why not flash a bit of her anger on him? At least she would experience some temporary relief through the release of her finger into the air, right? And who cares what the impact is? She doesn’t have to deal with it.
Through Catalyst Youth Leadership Project I work with youth who are often unaware of their impact. My assessment is they are just trying to make it through with little time to consider much or anyone else. Maybe that is what was going on for the Gator Girl. Maybe she was in survival mode. Regardless does being in such a state justify allowing your crap to spew all over someone else?
I have a friend, Sally, who used to use the “blurt and cope” method. She described it to me once. Her approach, perhaps a bit more thoughtful, was based on being a good (a.k.a. honest) friend. She felt honesty, no matter how brutal, was the most important thing. Impact became secondary to anything else. Unfortunately she realized this method was losing her friends instead of gaining the deeper connection she told me she was trying to attain. Later Sally figured out what she was missing a key ingredient, disclosure for the sake of connection versus just sending her feelings outward. I wonder if the Gator Girl has ever thought about her impact? Anyway, Sally now allows more care for the results of her interactions. I liken Sally’s actions to my experience of living in a smaller town. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone flipping anybody off or laying on the horn out of haste. I’m sure it is because the circle of relation whether personal or a related acquaintance keeps folks more in check.
I, personally, used to despise this about living in a smaller town where neighbors knew each other. I couldn’t wait to break out and be anonymous in a big city when I was a teenager. I guess my hardwiring is backtracking to a more thoughtful place. I can “do the big city mentality” because I have lived in enough big cities from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. However, I crave a deeper connection, which now outweighs any desire to be anonymous. I don’t think I am alone in this craving. I am noticing trends like – the migration of big city folk moving to the country, the creation of smaller communities within cities, flourishing websites like community meetups (allowing folks to connect with individuals with similar desires) or eat meals together. We crave connection to others. And though FaceBook may draw us away from real-time connection with folks right in front of us. It also seems to provide another form of connection to folks we can’t see every day. I hold these two views in either hand weighing their service and disservice to connection (and that is another whole conversation).
So for now I will take the slower pace. After passing through some large cities again this week on my travels. Then staying on island I am affirmed a more connected and slow wired roost is where I am gonna lay my eggs for now.