Tuesday, December 26, 2006

On Driving a Car on Christmas Day

On Christmas day the world slows just a little. You can walk down the street and notice that the few people about are walking at a slower place, more relaxed. They are more likely to look up and acknowledge others. It is just a bit easier. Early morning there is also a stillness as people are indoors with their families and gifts.

But it no longer lasts all day. The traffic soon picks up and people are on the move, visiting and fulfilling family obligations. I noticed this particularly this year because I was one of those people. Between 9 and 11.30 I was out collecting my son from Cambridge (as he doesn't drive it is the only way to get him home for the Christmas meal. I have done this for a number of years and it is almost like a little ritual, going up with my younger daughter. We usually leave earlier and play stupid games like guessing the number of cars we will see before the motorway, in a strange way we can enjoying being amongst the few out and about. But the extra hour or so this year made a big difference. Families were on the move and the driving was almost as fraught as normal. The number of cars on the road was not enough to cause any delays but the speed and aggression of the driving was just the same, as if it is impossible to relax behind the wheel. There should at least be one day when things are easier.

There is only one answer - do less driving. So I am in my car, with a round trip of about 115 miles wondering what everyone else is doing on the road and how I can cut down. How do you unpick routines, and arrangements built round the car? It is not easy and there is no way that I want to go cold turkey and give up having a vehicle - it is too useful. However I have to work on ways of reducing its use and changing habits.

It is a bit like running - habit is everything. Going for an occasional run is no problem, the key is in having a regular pattern. In fact one of the lessons running has taught me is that progress is built on consistency. The only problem is I am just not very good at applying it!

In fact I think my major project for next year is to look at my patterns of living to see if they contribute to or detract from well-being. Then make changes that can be applied consistently. They may be small things like doing a little stretching every day or bigger things like work, but the project is to try to find more balance.

So my Christmas wish to everyone who reads this is that their daily patterns are in balance and they find fulfilment in the New Year.


b-z said...

im not very good at balance

im a bit of an all or nothing girl!

heres to a fabulous 2007

womble said...

I've not had a car for 3 years now but then I live in Greater London where we have public transport. However, I've still only needed to hire a car 3 or 4 times. Yes, I do have a bicycle, bought especially once I gave back the car. I use it for shopping - I have a rack and paniers and a rucsac. My children are now used to doing more cycling which is good for their fitness too. And we catch the bus more when we might previously have driven.

I've made myself change my habits by not having a car. I did have access to one for a few months but I'd got used to not having one so tended to pretty much ignore its existence. I fyou still need to have one for certain journeys I'm not sure how you can reduce use elsewhere. Make yourself some little rules? If it's local (less than x miles) then cycle?

I've just posted off 5 race entries. Haven't a clue how I'm going to get to any of them but I know it'll happen!