I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t drive for about 2 years while I lived in Spain, but for some reason I have slowly developed some pretty significant anxiety when I’m behind the wheel. I can remember vividly the first time I noticed it. I was driving to Ocean City, MD with my wife and two good friends for the weekend. It was the first weekend that The Dark Knight Rises was in theaters, so we decided to stop in Annapolis to see the movie before heading across the bridge. By the time we were driving to the Eastern Shore, it was probably around 10 or 11PM. I should take a step back here and explain this to anyone who isn’t familiar with the geography of Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay is the big chunk of water that cuts up through our state. The side of Maryland that is on the eastern side of the bay is called “the Eastern Shore”. (No one said it was creative.)
In order to get from the main part of Maryland over to the Eastern Shore, you have to cross a pretty significant bridge. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is a tad over 4 miles long, at its highest point it is 186 feet above the water and it’s fairly narrow.
Ok, maybe it’s more than ‘significant’. Well I’ve probably driven over that bridge over a hundred times in my life. I had friends who lived on the Eastern Shore that I visited regularly. When I first began college I would go back and forth to my school in Philadelphia via the Bay Bridge.
This time driving over the bridge was very different. When I reached the highest point, I suddenly became ultra aware of how high up I was and just how close the edges of that bridge were. Looking back, I can only describe it as a near panic attack. I was really close to turning to my friend and saying “Umm… if I pass out right now you might have to take the wheel.” Instead, I held it together by trying to distract myself with discussions about the movie we had just watched. “So guys…. *GULP* ..h-h-how did you like the ending of the m-movie?” Not my best movie critic moment.
Ever since that night, I’ve noticed an increased anxiety when I drive. Even when I’m not on bridges, I’m sometimes overly aware of the fact that I’m screaming down the highway at 75 or 80 MPH and I can’t stop myself from imagining all these things that could go wrong. What if the tire blows out? What if a truck nudges me off the road? At that speed I would just end up flipping through the air and that would be the end. It’s not rational, I know. But the feeling that I’m out of control becomes very overwhelming and then it’s a vicious cycle where I can’t climb up out of my own head.
Last weekend I drove down to Roanoke, VA to meet up with a good friend. When I got out on the road, the anxiety started creeping in again. I was trying to distract myself through podcasts so I wouldn’t think about it, but it wasn’t working. So I turned everything off and just started talking/complaining to God. I complained about the fact that I used to LOVE road trips. It used to be so relaxing and liberating to just get out on the road, excited about the destination waiting on the other end. I asked God what happened to the days when I would drive down 95 while doing about 95. It turned out that talking to God was doing a pretty good job of distracting me, so I kept it up. I decided to pray for as many people as I could think of and devote the time to fellowship with Him. I was interrupted by a necessary gas station break. When I got back on the road, I tried to pick up where I left off and started talking to God again. About 3 or 4 minutes later I stopped suddenly because I realized I was cruising at around 80 MPH and even feeling like I could go faster. Normally when I’m that comfortable driving it’s because I’m just distracted and not thinking about it, but this was different. I was fully aware of everything but feeling very much in control. I drove the rest of the way down comfortably and even made the 4 hour drive back home feeling relaxed the next day. I’m not saying I’ll never have to deal with it again, but I was so thankful to have that feeling back that I ended up just singing whatever random praise songs popped into my head for the next 45 minutes. It was time well spent with Jesus that day.
CROWNS THAT DON’T LAST
What a bummer that the Heat won last night. I don’t necessarily have anything against LeBron, and in my opinion he was spectacular in the game. I think I’m just like everyone else who likes the lack of flashiness to the Spurs’ game. Any time I’ve watched the Spurs play, Tim Duncan is always completely flat with his emotions. But last night when he had the chance to tie the game in the final minute and he tipped the ball just a little bit too hard, he was slapping the court in frustration and visibly upset with himself. It was a really entertaining game in that sense. There was a lot of drama, it was neck-and-neck the whole way and the passion was evident in all the players. Fun to watch.