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  • Justin Kane Elder

SLOW LANE


Our choices make change in ways seen and later felt. Sometimes it's a feeling that drives decision making change the result. The experience and knowledge that follows leads to new direction. The combination of these three ingredients (choice, change, and knowledge) brought about a major shift in my life that is still setting in. You've heard the phrase "life in the fast lane." Many of us live it. The popular world celebrates it, idolizes it, even forces it down on our shoulders. Schools teach it; sports reinforce, employment demands it, even entertainment turns it into an idol for us to adore. I, like most of the world, have spent the better part of a lifetime driving in it, most days literally.

The fast lane consumed my life, my profession, my recreation. Bigger, better, faster, stronger, longer, these words once had significant meaning to me. Until I pushed them to the breaking point, only to discover the cycle would repeat itself again and again. My life was to the point where the fast lane was everywhere—commuting in the left lane only, constantly riding people's asses, passing, weaving, always striving to be there fast. Over stacking days with meetings and deadlines that never stopped –they just led to the next appointment or target date, an endless cycle of go. Weekends were spent ripping around on fast motorcycles, desperately racing towards some form of relief, only really leading to a tighter grip on the throttle. Paintings were rushed, frantic, and emotional, concepts and ideas forced and chaotic, sculptures made in mere moments. Everything was stuck on fast forward. Years flew by in a blur as I watched a decade pass in a blink.

This was everyday life until the universe kicked me and reminded my soul of the three tenets (choice, change, and experience.) The drivers of what becomes your life. Upon reviewing the course, my decisions were taking me. I knew it was headed straight for a brick wall. It was either keep going and crash (which seemed stupid) or turn and see where the bumpy winding dirt road led to. I had spent so many years, countless hours, unchecked minutes blindly chasing the pack. The other lane never even occurred to me. It didn't even seem real. That path was a fantasy, something to strive for in retirement. A place we only get to visit in our golden years. My mind was too set on passing the next goal, attaining the next achievement. My soul and those energies that surround us had a different plan altogether. The plan was to switch lanes, let off the throttle, and watch the world pass by as it fades into the rearview mirror. Until the sound of the highway, one day, becomes the chirping birds and the wind in the trees.

Sounds easy, right? Just hit your blinker and turn the wheel. Well, in my case, nothing ever follows a straight line. The world fought me tooth and nail. It dug its claws into my ribs, hoping never to let go. Fortunately, I am a strong swimmer, and I use determination for a compass. Once the initial turbulence was over and the open clam water had been reached, it became easier to navigate. The work it took to see this water was monumental. We had to become debt-free, face the many faces of the Grim Reaper –let go of financial certainty, walk away from years of hard work, and place our faith in what might be.

Let me say this, even with the hardship, the fight, and the struggle, the slow lane is the right choice. It opens up unexpected and unseen potentials. Instead of chasing everything, constantly hunting, searching, and scraping. When you slow down, a funnel of attraction begins to surround you. Things start to fall into your lap, often quite unexpectedly, and since you've decided to stop tailgating in the world around you –your view becomes open and full of opportunity. Allowing for one not only to see a wider range of options but also a course of direction without the pressure of getting there first. Similar to waiting for a wave in the ocean, there are many to choose from, but only the right one will see you to the beach.

Oddly enough, a simple thing helped me recognize the fruitful world that populates the slow lane. It started when we decided to sell our new fancy truck and buy an old beater truck. We bit the bullet, ditched the car payments, took a loss, saved up some cash, and purchased the truck free and clear. Thus relieving our overburdened finances and giving some breathing space to allow for things to slow down. Since the old truck wasn't meant for the fast lane (at those speeds, it felt as if it was about to rattle apart.) Everything slowed down on multiple fronts, which allowed me to keep the truck in the right lane and let traffic pass me by. After several months of driving in the slow lane, I noticed several things. First, my stress levels just kept dropping. Second, the elusive deadline I had been forever chasing faded into the past. Lastly, I began to notice major gaps filled with potential.

What do I mean by this? Well, there is a pattern that emerges while driving slow –it is one of waves. For some reason (especially on the highway), all the cars clump together. (This is also true for humans in stores, parks, hiking trails, even public bathrooms) Once the group passes, you are left driving all by yourself. Literally, the road is yours. It's funny. You can see the angry little cluster of traffic closing in from the rearview mirror. Once they're upon you, they frantically scramble to get around you buzzing around like decapitated chickens. Soon enough, the horde is gone, and you're left on a quiet open road (sometimes for 15 to 20 minutes.) It's quite peaceful, and this is where the potential shows itself. Instead of staring down the license plate in front of you, there is time and space to take in your surroundings. In an odd way, it's a reconnection to nature. You start to notice wildlife, changing of the weather, backroads you've never explored, and you have time to think.

It is a literal means for stepping back and seeing a bigger picture, a meditation in motion. The possibilities become endless. Maybe that backroad leads you to that dream home you've never known. You could find an obscure estate sale where that old recliner you love to fall asleep in is waiting to be discovered. It could be as simple as coming home 15 minutes later with no stress on your shoulders and excitement for what awaits you. Whatever it may be, I urge anyone who reads this not to take these words lightly. Slowing down can save your life or bring about an entirely new one. I know this from personal experience and wish for all to discover the wonders that lay waiting in the slow lane. With a world of increasing frequency, faster gadgets, newer and better everything's, updates for updates, and never-ending technological progress. Does this solve our problems? –or can a step back provide the real means to evolution? Where do you want to drive your soul?

Put your blinker to the right and let off the gas. Coasting feels better with your foot off the pedal.

-jke

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