If we were having coffee, I would tell you the story of my first day driving a hybrid car. It took place six years ago at a time when seeing a hybrid car in my neighborhood was relatively rare.
In the crazy, noisy, busy world in which we live, it is difficult to relax, de-stress, and clear our minds. I found a space that could help me do that.
The moment I got in the car and closed the door, I felt like I had entered sanctuary. When I pressed the start button, I did a double take—no motor noise. I put the car in gear and pressed the accelerator only to glide forward silently and weightlessly as if floating on a cloud. The tinted windows added to the effect by giving the feeling that I was in meditation experiencing the nothingness of the Self and oneness with all of creation. What a wonderful feeling!
Then I was suddenly jolted out of my serene state by the sound of horns blowing. I found myself to be a little disoriented like when you wake suddenly from a dream sleep (but I had been fully awake.) The traffic light had changed and the guy behind me had gotten impatient.
I pressed the gas pedal and slowly accelerated to maximize fuel efficiency. Well that didn’t go over well with the cars behind me. Then there was more horn blowing followed by angry faces, the mouthing of unpleasantries that I couldn’t hear, and unseemly gestures from drivers racing past me and cutting in front of me dangerously close to a crash.
On another day, I might have responded in kind—but not today. Perhaps it was ozone from the electric motor or the strong electromagnetic field from the high voltage batteries but I didn’t react and just looked back with a blank stare, puzzled by their misplaced frustration.
By the time all of the cars around me were distant lights in a faraway galaxy, I had reached the speed limit. I felt an inexplicable urge to not go any faster and settled back into my quiet place. Oh how wonderful to be free of stress once more!
Then I saw a car approaching from behind. I expected another round of vitriol but to my surprise the driver pulled up alongside and gave me a thumbs up. This reminded me that by driving a hybrid car I live by the beat of a different drum; that I am on the high road; that I should not allow anyone to disrupt the serenity of my sanctuary; that Zen is possible amidst the stress and cacophony of the world around me.