Mandu rested happily on my chest, until Steve and I decided to walk down down to the Shoreline Cafe for breakfast. I am slower than I used to be, but the beauty of the morning, and the beginnings of spring were with us. Walking back along Northern, a lovely little country street, we met a man putting new tires on his car by the side of the road. He was working quickly, before the traffic increased. He said a child was recently killed along that road, and two people were, also, recently killed walking along Shoreline by the 7-11. He said people speed at 50 mph along this barely two-lane road of Northern. Yesterday, when I struggled around our block, I was splashed by cars rushing past. We are neighbors. This area is called Little City Farms, and people can't slow down, on their way to what? The gym? Starbucks? Peets? I do not understand. It was a Saturday at 2:00.
When people around here were saying they couldn't let their children walk or ride their bikes to school because of how people drive, I wrote a letter to our local newspaper pointing out many of these "bad" drivers are the parents themselves. When Chris was young, a mother hit Chris on his bicycle when he was riding home from school. She literally plowed right into him, and then, left him in the cold while she sat locked in her Mercedes. The only reason it wasn't hit and run, was that the long-time owner of the gas station saw what happened and ran out, and, told her to wait there until the police came. She was offended at having to stop. She was late for a meeting. I could not imagine that a mother would not have reached to cradle Chris's head until we got there. She was cold as ice when she spoke to us. There was no warmth, compassion, or even regret for turning right into a bike path and hitting a child who was in the right as to where he was supposed to be.
Steve says that yesterday he saw a woman driving a huge SUV on E. Blithedale in Mill Valley while she applied make-up from her compact. This is not new. Many years ago, the child of a friend of ours was killed on East Blithedale. The child was standing at the stop light in front Park School. A woman, who was drunk at 8:00 in the morning, piled her car upon the curb and killed one child and injured others.
Why does all this come back so strongly this morning? Awareness. What do we have without awareness? Awareness that we are driving a vehicle that weighs tons, and can be a lethal weapon. People, who might be against guns, then, hurl a giant vehicle around without any awareness as to the damage it might do. They are safe, enclosed, or so, it seems.
I would like to be more aware. This "illness" has shown me that I would like to have more capacity when I drive. I am more aware now of checking how I feel before I get behind the wheel of the car. Driving a car is a privilege, not a right.
I walk and see the parade of vehicles streaming by. I try and imagine what a difference it might make if each person eliminated just one car trip a week and walked. Maybe next time they wouldn't splash the walkers they pass with mud, and maybe they would love walking so much, that they would walk more and more, happy to meet their neighbors, and be free of the steel, smugness, and isolation of cars.
Take a walk today, wherever you are. Smiles form in the steps, leaving ponds that puddle, rather than streaks that scar.