Writing is transformative. Since I began writing full time in 2012, I have noticed subtle changes in myself. I’m a little more open-minded, a little more aware and accepting of my short comings and a little more patient. One example is driving.
I like to drive fast.
Besides being a speed demon, I’m also impatient with slow drivers sometimes. Okay, most times. I’ve been known to talk to other drivers in strong and direct tones (as if they could hear me). But I never get to road rage… never that angry. My biggest pet peeve is when someone cuts in front of me. But thanks to my love of writing, all of that is changing.
Now when I’m behind someone who is going too slowly, I try to imagine his or her story.
Maybe it’s a man who has a goldfish on the front seat. He’s going to surprise his daughter—his seven-year-old daughter. Who only gets to see him on Wednesday nights and every other weekend. Maybe he had to save up his money to buy an aquarium for the fish because he just lost his job… *sound of screeching tires*
Hold on. Too sad.
Maybe it’s a woman who is heading to a job interview and she’s rehearsing the intelligent questions she will ask the interview committee. She’s driving slowly because she’s a little early doesn’t want to appear too anxious. If she drives slowly (making me catch every red light) she’ll arrive punctually and appear very professional. And then she will be led into the interview room and sit directly across from her potential colleague. Maybe she’ll be so distracted by his deep brown eyes that seem to see into her soul that she’ll stumble a bit in the midst of her very intelligent question. He’ll send her a secret smile indicating his immediate attraction…
Maybe the person swerving between cars, passing on the left and right and squeezing in front of the SUV to gain the lead in the passing lane isn’t a jerk at all. Maybe he’s a man rushing his wife to the maternity ward at the hospital. It’s been a risky pregnancy and she went into labor early. Both of them are scared, but neither will admit it. He’s coaching her through late-labor breathing as he barrels along the highway. He’s praying, “Please don’t let the baby come now. Please don’t let the baby come now.”
Imagining the drivers who make me crazy is much better for my blood pressure than speaking to them loudly in strong and direct tones. I begin to sympathize with them, feel like I know them. Instead of getting frustrated, I now root for them, send angels to help them on their way, and exercise my creativity muscles in preparation for my next Big Idea.
What’s happening in your writing life that makes you a better person?