The road is narrow and curving, some snow still visible in the higher elevations. Roger is driving, and from the passenger side, I can see where the road drops away with nothing between our car and what looks to be a thousand foot drop. We slow to make a particularly sharp curve, easy…easy. A truck approaches. We pull over a bit and come to a stop to let them by. We eye each other as they pass, smiles on our faces, waving that one-hand “hi there” kind of wave strangers give each other. Then, we are off again, winding, curving.
I have the realization that I am not grasping the seat or gritting my teeth. I have become used to driving in these mountains, used to the little-used roads and the steep drop-offs that have nothing between me and a tumbling ride toward the bottom of a mountain, unless the trees stop me, that is. When I first moved here, I was tense, nervous on mountain roads that weren’t even close to the perceived danger we are driving on. Homeostasis. Our bodies know how to adjust so we can relate to our environment in a way that is not constantly in a state of fear or dread or anxiety. This is the same area I visited three and a half years ago—only I have changed.
I wonder. How much have I adjusted to in my life? What kinds of things were once scary or anxiety-producing, or made me angry, that I no longer pay any attention to? Are there important things I am missing just by a complacent attitude? Or is this just life—live it the best way you can; live it well, live it with gratitude. Just as I think this, we hit a small patch of ice and our Subaru fishtails slightly—unconsciously I tense, wait for the bad to come, and then when it does not, I forget and we drive on. Only my reactions to my environment have adjusted. Up ahead, we see a car inching along, and when they pull over to let us pass, the occupants’ faces are frozen in fear. I smile. I wave. I relate to them—give it time, you’ll adjust, or you will go back home and kiss the ground you came from.
(repost from yog)