On this day, I chose the scenic route and took a residential side street. While waiting at the stop sign, a slow moving pickup had the right-of-way and turned onto the road up the hill I had my eye on. Clearing the intersection, I made the same turn and fell in behind the truck which was moving 20 miles per hour on a 30 mile per hour road.
Despite having no time pressure, I still felt a rush of stress flow into my peaceful morning. As I lumbered up the hill behind the slow truck, I studied the pickup's driver. Obviously, he was oblivious to his surroundings. Slumped low behind the wheel, he appeared older and lost in his thoughts. I was right behind him and yet he was crawling for no apparent reason.
As luck would have it, every turn he made ahead of me was the exact route I needed to take. Not able to pass, yet going too slow to relax, I began to mentally talk to him.
"Hey buddy! Wake up. Look in your mirror, look at that speed limit sign, give a guy a break here. Do you realize you are asleep? It's amazing that you can be so unaware, yet be driving a truck."
Finally we arrived at an intersection that had an extra lane and I moved over to escape.
Then I realized where I was.
Our family had moved 4 weeks before and I had taken the route to the old house rather than the route to the new house. I was so focused on mentally browbeating the "asleep" truck driver that I didn't realize that I was the one who had been unaware! In fact, I should have turned right at that first stop sign rather than following that truck at all. Had I been alert, I'd have avoided the entire episode.
What a lesson in human nature.
When we fall back on mental auto-pilot, we act from mechanical habit rather than conscious thought. These mechanical habits then take us to the same places we've visited before - whether that's the destination we want or not. This explains why people continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
For example, the person who talks endlessly never detects their offensive behavior because they are operating on mental auto-pilot. They've formed the habit of talking and that's what mechanically happens when their awareness is on vacation.
The person who bites his fingernails is in the same boat. When mentally unaware, the mind reverts back to the mechanical habit of raising fingers to mouth and the damage repeats itself over and over. The only escape from self-defeating actions is to mentally breakout of mechanical habit - pull yourself awake and become "aware" of your actions.
Had I been mentally aware, not only would I have avoided the uncomfortable truck episode, but I'd have avoided blaming someone else for my own stupidity. As I look back on the incident, that truck was the universe's way of trying to show me I'd made the wrong turn. But rather than recognize I was the one in error, I blamed the problem on the truck driver.
Just who was the one asleep here?
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz