Road rage has always freaked me out.
It’s a weird thing, right? We’re floating through space and time in two-ton metal ships that move at speeds unimaginable to people less than a century ago; yet at the first sign of any inconvenience, we react with the same uncontrolled outburst as a child does when she doesn’t get her favorite toy.
You’d think we’d have honed the ability to simply abide in the stark magnitude of our technological development with joy and contentment. But alas, that does not seem to be the prevailing course of human nature.
Recently, I was sitting at a stoplight, and, no more than a half a second after the light changed to green, the person behind me let out the most obnoxiously blaring honk.
It was one of those honks where the person leaves his hand on the horn for a few extra seconds, ya know?
After making it through the light, I looked in my mirror to see what this person’s schtick was, and, lo and behold, he was absolutely livid.
Pure anger. Yet, why was he so angry?
I remember thinking that not only was this person irate with my lack of immediate acceleration, he seemed to be infuriated with me, personally. This was a bizarre thing to realize—being that this person did not know me, and probably couldn’t even make out my face through my rearview mirror.
This person would probably punch me if I were in front of him in that moment, which is pretty amazing considering my offense was sitting at a stop light for an extra nanosecond.
We are strange creatures.
So, what is road rage really?
I’ve wondered this since I first got my permit at 15. Or maybe even before that from watching my parents get upset while driving me to school.
I recently joked that every time someone honked, he or she was expressing some spiritual grievance to the world, “My relationship is corroding!” or, “I’m sexually insufficient!” or, “I’m constantly fearful!”
I don’t think I was that far off in my assessment.
It seems like a perfect example of misplaced dissatisfaction. Not only is it an inappropriate time to be airing our grievances, it is also a particularly dangerous time making it all the more insidiously stupid.
The way I see it, it’s just an easy opportunity to express our deep-seated psychological turmoil. It is also particularly convenient because we don’t have to actually face that person in the other car. We can yell and scream, but ultimately there is no one there to react to it because, again, you are yelling at an emotionally vapid metal space ship.
Eckhart Tolle had a segment where he spoke of how personally we take it when people honk at us, as if they were honking at “me.” In reality, said “honker” has virtually no connection to you whatsoever and likely never will.
Take nothing personally. When we take things personally, we suffer, and then we become the type of people who are susceptible to road rage.
So, it is clear that road rage is a manifestation of a dejected and tumultuous psyche, at least from where I’m standing. In light of that, it is quite important that we bring our attention to the source of the problem rather than the mere manifestation of it. And the source of the problem is “us,” our state of being, how we feel most deeply.
It seems so natural, doesn’t it? “He didn’t put his turn signal on! What an idiot! ‘Honk honk’.”
It’s only natural to our ego. It’s only natural to our profoundly chaotic sense of self. It is only natural when we are acting out of our pain, rather than being aligned with the immediacy of the present moment experience itself.
When we start to act this way, when we become agitated, it might be valuable for us to take a step back and look at it from a spiritual perspective. By this, I mean stepping outside of the narrow lens of our ego and simply abiding in the beautiful flux of it all, the fluctuating masterpiece of existence.
It’s silly to pretend to be serious all the time, because at the end of the day we are orbiting through space on a spinning blue ball. It is absurd as is, and we make it even more absurd when we play ego games. In the case of road rage, we take it beyond a place of absurdity and straight into the realm of hazard and suffering.
To be aware of the stark absurdity of it all is to be one step closer to ego dissolution and ultimately peace.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Taia Butler