I've been driving to and from and around Detroit for the past 10 days, and I am exhausted.
Part of that is the standard I've-been-driving-too-much annoyances: the stopping, the going, the sitting, the waiting. The no-fresh-air, spending-my-morning-in-a-box, two-days-of-trash-on-the-passenger-floor, oh-shit-I-missed-my-exit anxieties.
That's not the hard part, though. That's not the exhausting part.
The exhausting part is trying to love the people sharing the road with me.
I'm in a new environment, and I'm not used to the way people drive.
It's impossible, for instance, for me to not tailgate the car in front of me, anywhere south of Grand Blanc on 75. Whatever space I leave is immediately eaten up by a swerving commuter.
It's crazy making for a truck driver's daughter like me who's been trained and trained and trained that a following distance any shorter than four car lengths is dangerous. So dangerous, that it borders on immoral behavior for us life-obsessed Catholics.
It's hurtful to me, it really feels like people are being mean to me, when I sit in the left lane for miles and miles blinking my right turn signal, begging and hoping and pleading for someone to help me get over for my exit.
Where, exactly, are we going that is so important? How late must we all be running? What, precisely, is the context for such consistent and merciless behavior?
I've been fighting, all week, to dwell in a space of love, to dwell in abundance and generosity. I've been trying; trying to let people in ahead of me, to move left at busy on-ramps, to respond to the swerving commuters by slowing down, opening up my safe traveling distance again and again.
And, of course, I've failed miserably.
I get angry and short and frustrated.
I fail, fail, fail again.
I try, try, try again.
It would be easy for me to dismiss this experience in a series of cliches: "I'm a small town girl and I don't know how to drive." "Those meanies in Detroit are so ruuuude." "This is why I don't support a auto-focused transportation infrastructure."
Or to just get angry and righteous. "Everyone drives like and ass hole in Detroit."
Neither of those responses would be helpful, though.
Driving in Detroit is just one more venue in which to to do my work, the work that I am called to.
This, too, is a community - this churning group of people in cars constantly occupying I-75 during every hour of the day.
This, too, is a group of humans; humans behaving inside a culture; humans making choices about how to treat each other.
This, too, is an opportunity to love each other, an opportunity to break the scarcity cycle, to insert care and generosity and creativity and joy.
It's a human system - it's capable of terrible cruelty; it's capable of great beauty.