Driving Angry (posted placidly by Jim Jennings)

Why do you seethe?

From the comfort of my living room couch I hear you at the nearby intersection. You’ve mastered the talent of applying the car horn to convey the subtle nuances of irritation, disdain and visceral hatred. That person creeping forward at the red light and then not noticing the instant that the signal changes to green—that person is at that moment the focus of your blind rage. It’s a rage that must have been lurking there before; the pause of a second or so in traffic could not have by itself ignited such a violent reaction. Your mind was nursing that resentment all along, waiting for a benignly inept fellow driver to apply the spark.

You may, of course, be an asshole. But the cacophony of car horns at one obscure intersection suggests that your sub-genre is not particularly rare. There must be millions of you, impotently compiling and updating your inner list of grievous injustices. Maybe there is something cathartic about venting your resentment in a simple and clear event. You may not know why you feel such antipathy, and maybe the question doesn’t really matter anyway.

Which raises a more helpful question: “What would Marcus Aurelius do?” (Or “WWMAD,” for short.) Were he around today, I suspect that after removing his bronze helmet to fit in the driver’s seat of his Honda, Marcus would ungrudgingly anticipate and accept all likely circumstances of urban driving: idiots, cell phones, maniacal impatience, and so forth. When that light turns green and the driver ahead remains in place, obliviously screwing around with some electronic device, Marcus would smile at the familiarity of the scene. The Honda’s horn would remain silent. Marcus, you see, is a winner.

I suggest that the rational man follow Marcus’s example. When one doffs one’s own bronze helmet and gets behind the wheel, one should accept the likely consequences. One can learn to drive without anger; it just takes practice. Unless, of course, you’re an asshole…


  1. Jackson

    December 15, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Very helpful thoughts. Thank you.

  2. KentuckyKate

    January 27, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I’ve been too long absent; my apologies. I must consult MA more often … or his contemporary translator. Thank you.

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