The other day while driving on the residential streets in my neighborhood, I turned on the cruise control. My daughter sitting in shotgun said, “You are so paranoid!.” Confused by the comment, I asked her what she meant.
She told me that ever since I got a parking ticket last summer, I was paranoid. She said I was afraid all of the time now and she talked about how I have been since the fateful day I got my very first parking ticket. She reminded me that she was there and concluded that ever since that day, I have been driving differently.
For my regular readers, you know it was quite the experience for me to get my very first speeding ticket after so many years. I had prided myself on never having that happen. In truth, I knew I had just been lucky and had been rationalizing my speed for many years (Making Excuses)
No matter what I said to my daughter, she would not be moved! “You are paranoid!” She said it so much my son joined in! To them, driving with the cruise control all the time was paranoia! Frankly, I am pretty sure they thought it was just plain foolish too!
I have thought about that interaction so much! Why do I do the things I do? For sure, it is easy to just slip into cruise control and not think about what I am doing and why I am doing it. I can just glide down the roads of life without much thought. It seems pretty obvious to me that there was never a time that this was more true than in this day! We get a little excited about the thought of driver-less cars, but the truth is we already have them. Too many of us are heading down the freeways of life without paying attention to what we are doing. It is so easy to just check out and go through the motions.
We live in the most addicted, numbed out, overweight, compulsive, distracted generation that has ever walked on planet earth!
Why do you do what you do? Are you really thinking about it? Are you in control? Are you in the driver’s seat of your own life? Or are you numbed out and checked out heading down the road on cruise control?
Regardless of what my daughter and son concluded that day, I am quite aware of why I am doing what I am doing. I am most definitely not paranoid. That first speeding ticket in over 30 years of driving was a wake-up call for me. I have always wanted to be someone who lives true to his values. I want to actually live what I profess to live. I want to walk my talk! I want to be true to all that is good and right within me. A speeding ticket reminded me of that desire!
My favorite definition of integrity comes from Brene Brown and my work as a Daring Way Facilitator. I want to live a life of authenticity and show up for wholehearted living. This work has helped me to do more of that! It requires me to dare mighty things. Integrity is one of them. According to Dr. Brown, “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort. It is doing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. Integrity is actually practicing my values and not just professing them.”
So, I know I am not paranoid when I click the cruise control on. I feel it when almost every car around me passes me and I want to speed up! I feel it when someone behind me is obviously very angry and they pass me with glares and nasty finger gestures. Now that the weather is nice, some are shouting curse words out the window. I know I am not paranoid when I get into my little turbocharged car that can really go fast! I am sure many of those who fly by me angry and irritated are thinking “If I had a car that said ‘Turbo” anywhere on the back, I would really step on the gas!” However, they just call me names.
It is not comfortable at all for me to drive the car-that-could-go-that-fast the speed limit. I am not comfortable when others pass me and dish out negative gestures, words, and vibes. This is not paranoia. It is courage. I want to have the courage to do what is right in the face of whatever insults are thrown at me as other drivers pass me on the roads of life! My mom always used to say to me “Jim, you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life!” More and more, I get the true wisdom of that challenge. It is a call to dare greatly and be brave with my life!
So, you may think I am paranoid. You may think I drive like an old man! You may wonder if I am out of touch or out of my mind! I cannot even imagine all that the people who drive around me may conclude about me as we all travel together on these highways of life. I know! I know why I am doing what I am doing! I am not afraid to say it or do it! I am not afraid to stand by it. Others may not like it, but I stand tall in my own mind because I feel peace about doing what I know I value.
Imagine what the world would be like if more people practiced integrity in the little things. What if more and more people chose to draw a line and determine to never cross it? What if more and more of us chose to be courageous and dare to live what we profess to live?
We can do it! It starts with your personal decision to live true to your values. When you make that decision to actually live right, it makes all the difference. Sure, there will be back seat drivers to tell you what they think of what you are doing. Even more, there will be others who speed by hurling cruelties in your direction.
Will you give them heed? Or will you cruise forward with renewed determination to be true? My choice is made! Please join me! There is room on this less chosen road!