Monday, September 12, 2005
Elephants in a Circle
I try to avoid driving at night, because at age 50, my vision takes longer to adjust to oncoming headlights and determine curves in the road. I usually just schedule my life so I am not driving after dark.
This weekend, however, Rachel and Caroline and I went to Portland to buy a nursery rocking chair. Caroline is trying to potty train right now, and this necessitated frequent stops. As luck (or non-luck) would have it, I found myself having to drive back home in the dark. I mentally drove the familiar route as I left Rachel's house. Let's see, there shouldn't be a whole lot of interstate traffic when I'm trying to get in the left lane there...There are stores still open on the highway, so I will have their illumination...Oh no! Construction!
Route 1A is under construction in several places. Orange cones are parked in wavy lines here and there to direct traffic around, over, in between the areas of repair. There are several places with no pavement at all. This area is hard enough to negotiate in the daytime, but at night I knew it would be treacherous, at least for me. I could feel my heart beat faster as I neared the construction zone. I slowed down to let others pass, so there were several cars in front of me as we approached. The cars that passed me were now crawling, not flying. Bumpity bump, bumpity bump, right, then left, then right, then straight, in no apparent pattern or rhyme or reason. Bumpity bump.
I found myself not looking so much at the road itself, or even the fluorescent orange cones. I hypnotically followed the red taillights of the car in front of me. At one curve, I noted there were cars in front of the one I followed. I pictured each driver following the taillights of the one in front of him. (I was in the middle of a large sandwich of cars going 10 mph, and I had nothing to do but philosophize.) Suddenly I got the mental picture of a circle of circus elephants. You can imagine them - each trunk holding onto the tail in front of it and each tail likewise holding onto the trunk behind it. There was no leader, there was no follower, yet everyone was a leader and everyone was a follower. Each depended on the other to be there as part of the chain.
Obviously, as I am writing this, I got home safely. But the elephant picture stuck in my mind.
Ed hates the expression "self-made man." He would say that nobody is "self-made." Every one of us learns from the other, and other people have helped us get where we are today. In turn, we help to show others the way. I am a medical transcriptionist. I never had formal schooling for MT, but I learned as I went. Not on my own, though. I had help, a lot of help. Even if I studied on my own, I had help learning which books to study. I learned about correct format from a more experienced MT who took time to educate me. I learned from an MT web site. I am still learning from people, books that people have written, and the web site where people post. In turn, I have helped MTs in my office learn how to format, how to do research on the Internet, and how to make shortcuts for that ever-elusive line count. We are all followers, all leaders.
I heard by the grapevine that several people whom I do not personally know read my blog on a regular basis. That seemed so strange to me. At first, I wondered why anyone would take perfectly good time to read my rambling words when they have their own life to live. I don't blog so much for "getting published" as for my own introspection, putting my thoughts down so I can make some sense of my life and remember where I am headed. I concluded, though, that if anyone is entertained by this, so be it. If anyone realizes a desire to simplify his/her life by reading this, even better.
We are all in the chain together.