Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Zen of Road Rage Management

I have always found driving in Japan very irritating. The narrow streets, the poor visibility of stop signs, the constant maelstrom of cars, bicycles and pedestrians everywhere you go.

At some level I was always cursing the situation. Particularly the poor city planning. I can't believe they allow some of these streets to be used for two-way traffic.

I first started driving here in the late 90s, then for a few years I did not drive. A new law came out whereby long-term residents cannot use an international license to drive here. I did not feel motivated enough to get my Japanese license. But my poor wife always ended up driving everytime we had a car outing and I felt bad so I gave in and got my Japanese license a couple of months ago. The frustration factor came back in full force.

But I finally had my long-awaited epiphany yesterday. I can't really describe it but it was a really deep feeling of just letting go. So what if the streets are narrow? So what if the majority of other drivers out there are dolts? Cursing the situation is like cursing the rain.

I realized that this constant level of irritation was a big drain on my energy and helped nothing. It is better to just accept it and do my part by driving safely.

There is a difference between knowing something in one's head and actually feeling it in one's bones. This was a case of the latter. I am almost entirely a head-oriented person so such moments are rare but precious.

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