Gull Lake Salad

We just spent some time in heaven!  At least it felt like how I imagine it.  A beautiful home on a pristine lake in northern Minnesota.  Guess which one of the 10,000?  It was the peak week for the turning of leaves.  The weather was perfect for long walks and slow boat rides to enjoy the colorful scenery.  Heaven on earth.

We were with our friends of 30 years, Donna and Tom.  They kindly invited us to their place.  Thank you!  They are the type of friends you can hang out with and always feel completely comfortable.  We want the best for each other.  We freely and honestly share our thoughts.  We simply enjoy each other’s company.  Complete trust.  Again, heaven.  We are thankful to have many couple friends like this.

I enjoy our rambling free flowing discussions.  They start with a review of what our kids are up to, and then drift into whatever we find of interest.  We typically solve at least one world problem, at least in our minds.  And on this occasion we developed an idea for a new radio call-in program.  It could actually work.  We’ll probably never know. Then we moved into topics of the day.  One struck me as particularly interesting.

Tom had just read an article about self-driving cars. The gist of it was that we humans are not going to be happy with them.  Think about it; they will obey all the laws that we treat as mere suggestions.  Imagine the annoyance of them clogging up the roadways by driving at the actual posted speed limit!  They will probably be very courteous and thoughtful defensive drivers as well.  Come on, the best defense is a good offense, right?!

We will attempt to alter their driving habits through a series of hand gestures and audible remarks.  But they won’t care.  They won’t react at all.  How infuriating will that be?  They won’t be pressured into driving like we want them to.  Eventually we will be forced to adapt to them.

Or will we?  Maybe we will just write laws and regulations to force their creators to adapt them to us.  Yeah, we can’t let them get away with forcing us to obey those pesky rules of the road.  We want our driving freedom.  My belief is that it will take a long time until we relinquish control of our vehicles.

Anyway, back to reality.  Time to head home.  Our temporary heaven quickly faded as we drove.  Seven hours in traffic will do that.  I was back to a normal level of annoyance within the first hour.  I was cut off, tailgated, and surrounded by fluctuating speed drivers.  Don’t all cars have cruise control nowadays?  Use it!  Oops, I certainly wasn’t demonstrating the patience of a saint.  Very sorry.

To calm myself I wondered what this trip would be like if we were all in those fancy self-driving cars.  They would all be following the rules while taking us safely to our destinations.  Just sit back and peacefully enjoy the ride.  How nice.

Then I wondered, what has caused driving to be such an annoying experience nowadays?  Too many cars?  Too few rule followers?  I’m a cranky old man?  Let’s go with the rules thought.

We all learn the same laws and rules of the road.  We take a test to prove we know them.  I’m guessing that most of us start out following them all.  Then we notice that not everyone does.  Especially as it relates to the speed limit.  It seems like most are going faster.  They are not pleased when others observe the limit.  And they let us know of their displeasure.  Peer pressure kicks in.  Everyone’s doing it, better speed up.  Slippery slope.  How about hitting the gas at a yellow light next…why not?

Reminds me of life in general.  We learn the rules from our parents and teachers.  Then we are introduced to another way, like the “little white lie.”  That won’t hurt anyone.  In fact, it may spare someone’s feelings.  Peer pressure, everyone is doing it.  Why not?  And the slippery slide begins.

So what’s the point?  Rules and Trust.  You can trust that a self-driving car will follow all the rules.  You know exactly what to expect from them.  They are predictable and safe.  That should make it easy for us to live peacefully together with them on the road.  As long as we follow all the rules too.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have that same level of trust with each other?

I recall the John Lennon song, “Imagine.”  He sings about imagining something, and then says “it isn’t hard to do” or “its easy if you try.”  But it’s not easy.  Because it’s so far removed from reality.  But let’s try anyway.

Imagine going out into the world everyday knowing that everyone is following the rules.  The natural laws.  Living morally.  Living the virtues.  Being kind, patient, charitable, humble, diligent.  Developing their talents to the fullest.  Using them to make the world a better place.  Encouraging and helping each other to become our best selves.  Selfishness and dishonesty don’t exist.  Heaven?

It’s hard to do, but it can happen.  We start with ourselves.  We strive to get better every day.  It helps to surround yourself with others who share your desire.  Friends like Tom & Donna.  And don’t cave to the peer pressure of these who don’t.  They may not be happy about it.  They may tailgate, honk, use sign language, and even try to run you off the road.  Just ignore them, follow the rules, keep your eyes on the road and your destination in mind; to become the saint you are meant to be.

And the song goes on, “… Imagine all the people living life in peace.  You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us.  And the world will be as one.”

Oh, gull lake salad is my secret mixture of peanuts and candy corn.  A story for another day…

Be Saintspirational!  Scott

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