First, do no harm.
This quote from a famous Greek of antiquity could be the basis for a new Golden Rule for the Road.
If we all applied this to our thoughts, words and deeds, we would decrease the amount of suffering in the world and create compassion wherever we go.
This all came to me while driving on the highway. I had just entered the Schuylkill Expressway toward Philadelphia and instead of trying to speed up to pass the motorist in front of me, I took my foot off the accelerator and simply remained a good distance behind him or her. I was in no hurry. And I wanted to keep the mellow feeling I had achieved from meditating earlier. Why ruin a good high, I thought, permitting myself to stretch out the goodness that had welled up inside of me. Let me extend it as long and as far as I can, even during my 22-minute drive on a recent Saturday morning.
Don’t cause any anxiety, I said to myself as I offered pleasant thoughts for whomever occupied the car in front of me. I felt I was offering love and affection to that driver. I was treating the motorist with the utmost respect and preventing any and all others from cruising up on him or her, tail-gating in a spiteful manner. (Isn’t all tail-gating spiteful? Do we really think that riding the rear of the car in front of us will get us anywhere faster? That it will relieve the pressure of being late?)
I felt good to offer such a small service. I don’t like it when someone rides my tail. I get anxious and feel as if I should do something to avoid their animosity. Here I was acting as a safeguard against anyone else who might inadvertently cause harm. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt as if I was practicing a healing of sorts.
Yes, I believe my compassion somehow made itself felt. I got a warm feeling just by imagining how good the person in front of me felt. The sun seemed brighter, the road more manageable and the outlook full of hope and promise. I had added no worries to anyone on the road, even those that decided to pass me and the other car. They seemed to be more courteous than usual, more friendlier and more accommodating.
No one caused me any harm. I was happy about my ride. I felt closer to my fellow drivers as I have ever felt before. And I look forward to taking this journey with them again soon.
Would you care to join me out of harm’s way?