Driving Lessons and My Mind

December 14th, 2012

I enjoy driving, and the trip to work is a pleasant time for me. Some days, it’s more so than others. One day it was especially so.

Traffic was easy to negotiate and stoplights were cooperating. Best of all, I’d been able to put my convertible top down and crank my tunes. All was right with the world. I made my final turn onto the last few blocks toward CSU. I was looking forward to the work day.

Suddenly, things changed. Traffic became congested and I found myself alongside an enormous school bus. That bus and another beside it on the three lane one way street triggered feelings of claustrophobia as we crept along, barely moving; my euphoric mood switched into one of annoyance. I became impatient. I felt robbed of my perfect ride. I sunk into a Scrooge-before-enlightenment bah, humbug mode.

Traffic was stopped by a red light I almost missed the slight movement catching my peripheral vision. When I focused on the source, I saw the bus was filled with children, and those in the seats next to me were knocking on their windows, waving to me and awarding me with broad eight-year-old smiles.

These youngsters were enjoying their day. Stuck in traffic? Well, let’s just wave at the lady in the convertible!

For me, the world became bright again in spite of the shadows of the buses and the tall buildings. The children were on an adventure and determined to keep it fun. They were stuck in slow traffic and instead of groaning, they continued their excitement by spotting me and my convertible and making the most of the moment. Shouldn’t I have done the same? The sun was still shining, and I felt its warmth on my skin. My tunes were playing, and my convertible top was still down.

I smile as I write now. Hmm. Can I learn to accept minor annoyance and keep my state of mind where it belongs? I’m working on it.

Maybe it’s a worthwhile practice for each of us to examine our moods and look for the source when we feel irritated. Is it important enough to ruin our day? Maybe we can, like the children, decide that nothing is that important.


Choices: are we really free to choose?

December 3rd, 2010


Sometimes I wonder how much choice we have. Our nature and upbringing, our living circumstances and so much more all have strong influences on our decisions, our behaviours and even our thoughts. Friends say, “I just knew that’s what you’d do”. Does that mean we’re predictable much of the time, and, if so, that we unconsciously make the same choices time after time without stopping to consider what’s best?  For us, for someone else, for the world, or just for fun?

But many times our choices are predictable not because we are rigid or compulsive, but because of ingrained, carefully considered values. Perhaps a well developed internal voice recognizes the choice we must make because it’s the one that fits our worldview. It’s the one that will make us feel good about ourselves. We almost unconsciously know which option would work best to move us toward realizing our inner needs, goals or desires – objectives we’ve been setting since we were very young, or maybe resolutions we made yesterday. 

Sometimes this just doesn’t work and our choice is hurtful in the long run. We become confused. What’s happening? Why don’t we stop choosing the painful path? Why is it so difficult to change? Or is it easy? Can we do it with little or no effort? I wonder about that.  I wonder if it’s ever easy. I wonder about choices.

Maybe it’s hard to cut down on sweets, getting to work late, losing our temper. Often it doesn’t feel as though it’s a choice. “That’s just me”, we say — even though it costs us a relationship, or a job, or clothes that fit, we insist it’s hard-wired into our personality. People do change, though. Sometimes. Is it a choice?  I’m not sure I’ll arrive at an answer.

But I’m going to think more about it.  




September 29th, 2010

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Lou Sauer, Ph.D.


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