caution: driver singing

Here’s my tribute to the last official day of Summer! Celebrating a season of sunshine, too free and easy to be captured in little boxes on a calendar hanging flat on my wall.

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72-car in sky-jpeg copy

Caution: Driver Singing. I saw this bumper sticker a few weeks ago.  It reminded me of  a couple girls we watched while stuck in traffic on a hot California day.

Desperate for a reprieve from triple-digit temps, we were flying down the freeway to escape the heat. After sizzling past Dixon, Vacaville came and went like a flash in the rear view mirror.   We scorched on through Fairfield and  down the hill, chasing a siren song! It lifted off the cool waters of a distant bay and drifted inland upon the delta breeze.

There, where gentle winds beckoned us onward, our truck slowed to a crawl, bogged down in a mire of commuters, travelers, semi-trucks and RV’s.  All converging at the Cordelia interchange, barely flowing through a clogged artery meant to pump life into cities along the bay.

By the time we inched off the ramp and onto 680, traffic had been stop-and-go for at least a half-dozen songs on the radio.  My husband navigated our camper-shelled cocoon slowly to the inside lane.  While he concentrated on the tail-lights in front of us, I took  in the sights all around, marveling at the sea of humanity being squeezed into a freeway two sizes too small.

As I scanned the lanes for personalized license plates, we rolled up next to the Lexus that had edged us out a ways back when everyone was merging left. The driver gripped the steering wheel with both hands, his knuckles flashing white like spurs digging into the haunches of time. “C’mon!  Hep! Hyaw!” he seemed to snarl, willing the traffic to part and to let him race on through.

Instead, it came to a dead stop.

He coughed  and sneered into the rear view mirror, disgusted with the semi closing in from behind. Then, thrusting his jaw forward, he craned his neck to the left, squinting to study the slice of highway barely visible between trucks and RV’s, like a man staring down the sight of a gun.

The mounting tension trapped in his vehicle was getting to me. So I looked to the sky and slid my fingertips along the door handle until I felt the familiar ridge.  “Rrrrrrrrr,” the window disappeared into the door panel as I prepared to give hubby a quick weather update.

“Ohhh, Honey,” I sighed, weaving my fingers through the cool air and letting loose strands of hair whip across my face.  “The delta breeze feels soooo good.”

Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of something bouncing up and down in the road ahead.  A white convertible with the top down, was spilling a thick, steady plume of  BOOMba-chick, ba-BOOMba-chick out over the highway. Percolating in the middle of this boombox on wheels were two girls, with heads thrown back and faces drinking in the sun as they waved and danced their palms high overhead.

I felt myself falling in with the rhythm, too, as each girl pulled one shoulder back and then the other,  rolling smooth and easy into a synchronized  sway, their chins slicing funky, little circles through the air.   It was impossible to look away. Every movement was electric!  The way they’d pull their jawlines back while shoulders pulsed to the beat, and hoop wire earrings shimmied, throwing off glimmers of the morning sun. The way they pursed their lips into a  knowing smile, tossed a bright-eyed look toward each other and both cracked up, doubling over, convulsing and drumming their palms on the dash.  Boom. Ba-boom. Ba-boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. “Aah-ooh-aaaaah. Hey! Hey! Hey!”,  they sang, as once again the music lifted them back into the air!

Any one could see that though their car sat wedged among teeth-clenching, brow-mopping Lexus Larry’s, they’d left this traffic mess far behind!

Finally, traffic picked up and we were grateful to be sailing along once again toward a beautiful 70 degree day.  Yet I felt a little sad as the two dancing girls rolled out of sight.

Bouncing along in our big red truck, I came to terms with reality. Our F-150 was certainly no convertible. There would be no putting the top down today.  We wouldn’t be leaning back and throwing our hands straight up into the air.  And, for sure, our speakers—the tiny little things they were—-would not be oozing a killa’ beat out over the highway in our wake.

But as I felt the sun on my face and swam my hand through the air, I felt a faint Boom. Ba-boom. Ba-boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It was stirring up a dance deep within me, lifting me up and tossing me into the air!

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Recently I found myself charging along like good ol’ Lexus Larry, diligently grinding through my work and pushing forward on an important endeavor.  I was riveted—heart,  mind and soul—on one goal: to write a talk that compelled women to see God in a new way and hunger for a deeper relationship with Him.  I started each day with the reminder that this wasn’t just a job, but rather I was doing the work established by God,  for my hands.  In spite of diligence, standing against procrastination, even the prayers and Bible verses that I wove throughout my days (and nights), sometimes I felt I was, at best, trudging along. It seemed like every creative thought was stuck in traffic–far, far away.

I called my sister and shared how I was growing weary of having so little fruit to show for all my hard work. She suggested that I needed to step back from working on the talk and to do something else for a while.

I put on my running shoes and headed out into a sunny afternoon.  A refreshing breeze tickled leaves overhead.  Swaying branches swept the tension from my mind.  As I walked briskly, pumping my arms, the ideas started flowing.  I could hear sections of the talk being played in my mind to the rhythm of my steps.   Boom. Ba-Boom, Ba-Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. One fresh thought surfaced after another.

While it was but a simple walk (no convertible involved!), it felt a lot like putting the top down and swimming my hands through the air.   I saw the coloring flowing back into my work as I took a break to dance to the rhythm of life!

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Since that afternoon, I’ve been mindful to sprinkle bits of refreshment throughout the day.  Small things like opening a window, lighting a candle, or enjoying a good cup of chai in the middle of the afternoon.   It may mean getting away from the computer and sitting outdoors to eat lunch, cooking a good meal and enjoying it with my husband at a leisurely pace or having coffee with a friend without watching the clock.  Times of renewal are as important as time focused on work.

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[bumper sticker image modified from kittyz202 @ Flikr]

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6 thoughts on “caution: driver singing

  1. Wow, you are certainly back in great form! You paint such beautiful pictures with your words. Well done. We often forget to take time to breathe, to enjoy the simple pleasures, to renew our spirits. Thank you for sharing this reminder.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the ride with me! Could you relate to that get-me-out-of-the-valley desperation? ‘Probably threw in your own brand of get-me-straight-to-Cambria giddiness! Hope on this first day of Fall, you’re getting a break from the Summer of ’09. Don’t forget to take a few dance-breaks as you tackle your query letter…pumpkin spice latte, anyone?

  2. I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

  3. Hey Mari — what a great story!! I had a similar experience not too long ago, but instead of girls singing with the top down, I saw a girl leaning out of the passenger side of the car blowing bubbles. I loved the look of pure joy on her face every time she blew more bubbles. 🙂 As the bubbles floated through the air towards me, I also felt a sense of joy and wonder! Months later, I still smile every time I think of the girl blowing bubbles. 🙂

    1. I love it, I can picture the bubbles. They are wonderful–I agree. Seeing bubbles always takes me back to being a little girl running barefoot and free through the grass on a summer day. That sure sounds good right about now. (It’s cold back here!)

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