I've come to realize that many, perhaps most, of the things that get me called a stick in the mud involve motor vehicles. The thing is that most people don't seem to realize that one of--if not the most--dangerous thing they do on a daily basis is get in the car and go.
I used to be a bit of a speed demon some decade or more back. I used to skip the seat belt. I used to talk on my phone while driving (those were the days before texting had caught on). I used to, as much as I hate to admit it, drink and drive. I know a lot of people who did. Frankly, I know too many people who still do.
And its puzzling to me.
I like cars. I like the freedom of the open road. I like hitting the pavement with Matt for an adventure to Yellowstone or Red Rocks. But I also think, as is the case with many of our best technological advancements, that we're too lackadaisical in our approach to the use of the automobile. We use it just because we can. We use it without really thinking about it. I know people who drive one block to the grocery store for a loaf of bread. I know people who eat, text, and drive all at the same time. That is just crazy, if you ask me. Driving is a technical, multifaceted, complex task which deserves our full attention. Its not like trying to chew gum and walk at the same time. This is important, life or death stuff. I'm tired of losing people so senselessly.
I don't miss having my own car. 99.9% of the time, at least. It makes so much more sense for Matt and I to share one--financially, environmentally, and for our physical health. In fact, when I have occasion to drive I almost always end up feeling so relieved when it is over. (I have to drive across town for a Montana Wilderness Association meeting tonight and already am not looking forward to it.) I find navigating motor vehicle traffic so much more stressful than pedestrian traffic. As such, its much less enjoyable to me as well. On foot/bicycle I can watch the birds, smell the flowers, and mull over my thoughts much better than when in a car. I don't miss it at all--even when I am riding my bicycle in the rain, even when I am walking bundled up in my winter coat. I can move at my own more human-scaled pace. I like that better.
I imagine Matt and I will always have one vehicle between us. We like to travel too much and America is huge. I've got a lot of place to see yet--Carlsbad Caverns, Crater Lake, Channel Islands, Wind Caves, and so many, many more. I hope all those journeys are safe ones. The autonomy of automotive travel expands the options available to us when traveling. Its a good tool to have. But, I just wish we paid a little more attention to it and its impacts on our lives.