There’s this parking lot at the Provo Towne Center (yes, they really spelled it that way, and yes, it’s just a big shopping mall) where I like to go see movies. On the way to see a movie, if you come from the direction I come from, you have three choices for crossing that parking lot:
1) The inside track, where you really ought to slow the hell down for pedestrians you MANIAC.
2) The outside track, where you drive a good quarter mile out of the way of ANYTHING, and where the 15 mph speed limit is enforced by a broad, hairpin turn that I can take at about 40 if I’m pushing my luck.
3) The lawless route across the middle of the parking lot.
On the way back from a movie this evening (I went out to see the 10:20pm showing of Blade: Trinity. The grade: C-. Wait for the DVD, and then rent it with friends who can help you mock the movie) I decided to take route #3.
Cutting across an empty parking lot at 40mph at 12:20am is surreal. Especially when the lines are all about 45 degrees offset from your direction of travel. As I was crossing, it occurred to me that the adrenaline rush I was experiencing was due to the fact that I was crossing those lines a LOT.
See, as drivers we learn to stay inside the lines, and when we cross the lines we THINK about it first — unless we’re caught in a moment of carelessness, in which case we get adrenaline rushes from the realization that we slipped outside of our allocated stretch of road unconsciously. We spend our ENTIRE BEHIND-THE-WHEEL LIVES trying as hard as we can to stay inside those lines.
Crossing the parking lot forces me to check ALL angles of approach, because the lines can’t protect me. Not only is it POSSIBLE that a car could be coming the other way… it’s LIKELY that they could be coming the other way, and they CERTAINLY aren’t expecting ME to be zipping across their precious line-delimited lane. Hence the adrenaline.
And now, for the profound metaphor: our lives are like this. Mostly we try to stay inside the lines, where our expectations for others and their expectations for us are automatically managed. Sometimes, though, we have to change lanes. At other times (puberty, anyone?) we find ourselves on unpainted road. At still other times we cross entire parking lots. I’m not trying to encourage that kind of behavior, because although there’s growth to be found on all paths, there’s better ways to learn caution than by broadsiding someone in the parking lot.
End of metaphor.