Saturday, June 28, 2014

On Panic

            Panic drives recklessly. She speeds down the freeway in an attempt 
            to outrace her fears and numb her nerves. As she rushes to the city,
            she mutters about the accidents and the traffic and the isolation of 
            each driver safely locked inside a little machine....We are all out of                       control, pretending to be in control. 
                         -from J. Ruth Gendler's The Book of Qualities

Years ago, my early-morning freeway commute was under construction--there was this 2-mile long chute of sorts, with Jersey barriers tight on either sides. Dear Lord, it was terrifying. 

So I did the only thing I could conceive of--I hit the gas so I could get through the monstrosity as quickly as possible.

Every morning. For several months.

I never considered an alternate route.

I never considered SLOWING DOWN, so if I did scrape a barrier, it would just ding a mirror, not make big ka-bang-kaboom.

I never considered the fact that if the giant pickup truck ahead could fit, my Ford Escort was not as close to the barriers as I felt it was.

And I like to believe that I'm a rational person. But faced with these barriers, my ability to problem solve flew the coop.

Throughout these months, I don't think I ever mentioned the obstacle to anyone around me. Neither to complain nor to seek out guidance--was I addicted to the adrenaline, or that afraid to admit to a vulnerability? Probably some of both.

It was a long time ago. I've hypothetically gotten wiser over the years. 

If I drove into such a construction zone again, maybe I would figure out how to deal with it constructively. But there's a decent chance that I'd fall into less-than-optimal decision-making. 

And then I'd probably mention it on Facebook, and my friends would make some of the rational suggestions listed above. 

What do you do when you're panicked and no longer capable of using your best brain? 

1 comment:

  1. Talk to trusted other(s). Once I can get rational enough to remember that this has always helped before. Usually these calls or e-mails start out with "I need a reality check..."

    That said, I don't know if I've talked to anyone about my reaction to driving past 18-wheelers, which is similar your description of driving through that construction zone. All I can think about is Physics, and how sleep-deprived (at best) most drivers of 18-wheelers are. Scares the crap out of me if I can't pass with at least a lane between us. I won't even go into the panic when they drive right up my @$$ at high speeds. PHYSICS. DECREASED REACTION TIME. STOP IT!!! Oh, I said I wasn't going into that, didn't I? :)