LAJ ARTICLES

It’s All Yellow Lights

Patrick Gothard LA Freeways

I would love to help save the environment (and increase my gas mileage by up to 6%) by driving at a more even pace. But, again, I can’t.

Again, I am on the 2 and the 5 and the 110 and the 10. The perpetual traffic seems extra heavy because I am late. Like so many other nights, I was up into the early morning – simply trying to catch up. And so, I wake late, skip another shower, dress and hurriedly brush my teeth. I have no time to brush down on the uppers and up on the lowers; I race to drag the brush across them all. I subsist on coffee and toast and cigarettes. I would love to help save the environment (and increase my gas mileage by up to 6%) by driving at a more even pace. But, again, I can’t. I am on the gas. Gas. Brake. Gas. Brake. This is the mantra of my life.

Gas and brake. I know this is no way to live. It is unhealthy, unproductive and ultimately, unfulfilling. In my haste I forget things. The eight pages I slaved over last night and finally “finished” writing at 3:20 this morning are still sitting in the tray of my printer while I . . .long, ever-merging 5 and 110 interchange hoping to be in Culver City – with the eight pages – in 40 minutes. This is just not working.

They tell me that speed kills, and I believe them. The speed of our lives is killing us. Forget about our health, that’s not what I’m talking about – it’s too obvious. Forget about productivity and waste and money, they’re too quantifiable – if you can put a value on it, it’s not what I’m talking about. Speed kills our dreams and turns them into entries in our checkbook.

Speed kills the soft genuine moments when lovers’ eyes melt into each other and exchanges them for a lip-smacking peck and a promise to try to share dinner tonight. Speed kills our childhoods. Soccer. Music. Dance. Tutoring. Please, someone tell me why children have so much stuff that they must drag carry-on luggage to school? Eight-year olds need only a sandwich, a pencil and a mind like an open sky . . . they will have plenty of opportunities to deal with their childhood baggage when they turn 30.

Speed kills our innocence, trust and basic goodness and turns us into those people we swore not to  become. We work for people we don’t even like. For companies we don’t philosophically agree with. For industries we know kill people with still more speed. It is speed at all costs. We are complicit and we know it.

We would love to say, “I’m just carrying it for a friend . . .it’s not mine” but that would be yet another lie. Today, we hardly recognize the people that we have become – if we did, it would break our hearts, and so. . .gas and brake.

Gas and brake.

By: JC Jaress

cover mar 2006

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