Mark it blogged!
Beginning Again
by Mark Brunner

I got behind a slow driver on a winding country road today. As he was driving about four miles below the limit and I had someone behind me that seemed impatient to get past, I thought it best to pass the slower driver as soon as the road straightened out. I spotted my opportunity and checked the driver behind me half expecting him to pass me at any moment. I put on my signal to pass, looked into the rear view mirror to make sure I was not being passed myself, checked the road ahead one more time and passed. As soon as I was safely back into my lane, a feeling of relief passed over me. I wasn’t behind the slower vehicle, the guy pressing my bumper was gone as well, having passed me and the other guy as soon as I finished my maneuver, and I was now in a safe lane with a driver fast disappearing ahead as well as behind. I looked in my rear view mirror again to see the slower vehicle disappearing gradually into the distance. I was alone on the highway, moving down the road with a sense of satisfaction. I was no longer following or leading. I was just driving. I settled into a sense of destination and checked my watch. There was plenty of time; I’d get there just like I figured I would. Yet, somehow, the diminishing image in the rearview mirror seemed sad to me.

Poet Louisa Tarkington wrote. 

    I wish there were some wonderful place called the Land of Beginning Again, 

    Where all of our past mistakes and heartaches,

    And all of our poor selfish grief,

    Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door

    And never be put on again.

Even though I had put the very thing that annoyed me behind, fast disappearing from sight, there was a strange attraction to the driver I couldn’t explain. Perhaps I could have just given the guy some space and adopted a new pace that would have gotten me to where I needed to go without much delay at all? Was he bothered that he was passed by two consecutive drivers? Did he feel humiliated when he suddenly realized he was driving too slow? Was he a senior like me and sensitive about such things? Perhaps it was someone I knew and they would be offended that I didn’t like the way he was driving? As trivial and perhaps unfounded these thoughts were, they did pass through my mind, jumbled together and definitely not well blended. Nevertheless, I was mystified how little satisfaction I really enjoyed by passing that guy after all? It occurred to me that a do-over wouldn’t be a bad idea. “That was dumb!” I thought, and just kept driving, wary now of someone wanting to make me the object in their rearview mirror. 

As I grow older I am becoming more and more aware that what I’ve left behind could have been better, richer, smarter, more fulfilling. “Past mistakes and heartaches?” They are in my rearview mirror and I am strangely attached to them even though I am heading down the road free of them now. I passed them up and made it my goal to put some distance between us. Nevertheless, it’s doubtful I’ll ever completely forget them, as I share the road with them regardless of the space of time and distance. Tarkington was right, it’s probably some strange sense of “poor selfish grief” that ties me to them. It would be satisfying to drop them “like a shabby old coat,” never to “be put on again.” Easier said than done, though. I am guessing Tarkington wrote this as a plea and not a promise. Doubtless, there’s no choice but to keep driving, but checking in the rearview mirror is difficult to overcome, especially when questions remain. There’s no do-over to satisfy this. Perhaps someday the road will lead to a Land of Beginning Again. I hope so anyway.

Mark it blogged!

Mark Brunner

President, This Passing Day, Inc.

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