Right lane…it’s the new fast lane…

This last weekend I visited some friends in Los Angeles.  On the way down, I finally figured out LA driving.  Traffick started 100 miles outside the city, 130 miles north of my destination.  I was already late leaving, and when the fast lane, where I had been driving, turned into a parking lot with the rest of the traffic, I decided to think strategically rather than get frustrated.

What I saw was that two lanes over to my right was moving faster…consistently moving faster…than the “fast lane.”  I remember what a friend told me months ago, “Just remember, Angelites drift left.”  I waited for a gap and moved one lane over.  I got stuck behind a slow moving truck.  One clever car snuck up and passed us on the right.  Now, in Missouri where I got my liscense, passing on the right is illegal, as is driving in the left lane.  But in an instant I saw it as a strategic possibility, not just rude and illegal, and suddenly everything made sense.  While the Angelites inched their way forward in the left lane, I wove in and out of the right hand lanes, making my way to Huntington Beach through 130 miles of stop and stop traffic, almost in the same time it would have taken me without traffic (if there is such a thing in LA).

Very early in life I developed the world view that there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything.  Cleaning, cooking, sewing, school work, ballet, art, music…the trick was to find the right way and do it, otherwise you would be wrong.  Of course as I grew I began to see that there were many ways to approach the same problem, but because it was a world view, rooted in my earliest childhood, I couldn’t really shake it.  Somehow language and spirituality escaped the black and white thinking, but I have still been susceptible to the influence of others who believe there is a right way…or a better way…to keep house, to relate to one another, to worship God.  That kind of thinking will break you.  So as I scanned a quarter mile of five lanes of frozen traffic, something in my brain shifted.  Some people use their signals, some don’t, but I stopped being mad that that guy cut me off without even signaling and started looking for signs other than the red blinking light that someone was going to come into my lane.  I figured it out.  I still use my signal, but I learned to pass on the right, change lanes when I could, and scrap most of the “rules of right driving” (not to be confused with traffic laws…these are things that were NOT in the manual that were part of the “right way” to manage traffic), and drive in a completely different (and changing) culture.

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