Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Rearview Mirror on the 427

I didn't really learn to drive until I was 24.  I'd grown up cruising on two-lane highways and through  towns with one or two stoplights at the most.  Medians, let's just say, were a novelty.  Then I got to Toronto, and one day, I had to drive to the airport.  The road there from downtown is known, colloquially, as the 427.  This puppy is only 13.2 miles long and has no less than twelve lanes to navigate between two major arteries.  Almost 350,000 cars barrel up and down it in a day.  I am pretty sure that many people haven't been through my hometown since its founding around a century and a half ago.  The average speed is in the sonic boom range, given the few perching spots for those armed with radar guns and the challenge of actually stopping offenders across multiple and rapid merging areas. 

The critical mindset involves ignoring the rearview mirror. Vast numbers of cars barreling at your ass are a distraction from what's right in front of you.  Check your side mirrors only at the last possible minute, or changing lanes can be fatal.

Learning not to look in the rearview mirror on the 427 has been a powerful metaphor for me.  My work, a series of scary leaps, has meant a lot of things to think about at once.  When I remember to put my hands on the wheel and my foot on the pedal, with side mirror checks with colleagues at critical moments, things get done. 

Last week my daughter, who had taken on the role of stage manager and a limited stage part in her middle school play, was asked to assume a lead role in a rendition of Alice in Wonderland.  She was asked to do this at nine in the morning, for a play at 7 p.m.  She had limited hours to really learn a role she'd only listened to for a month or so.  Sort of like trying to drive to a destination for which one has only ever been a passenger.  But the lead--who had practiced for weeks--had been stricken by strep, and the show had to go on. 

At fourteen, my girl has the grit of a Marine. (Unless her hair doesn't go right.)  I have only one foot in her world at this point. Neither I nor her father were aware that she would be the girl to walk out on the stage and be there more than any other character, singing no less than three songs and I don't know how many lines.  She tells me she missed quite a few cues, and there were some major technical glitches, but as far as her mother was concerned she might well have been on Broadway. 

She filtered out the things barreling at her at 90 miles an hour from all directions, and reached her destination, on stage, singing and acting in front of an audience. Don't many people fear such an experience more than death?  I was, not for the first time, in awe of her. "It wasn't a big deal, mom," she asserted.  I can only imagine where the road leads for her.   

1 comment:

  1. HUgs to Alex for a job fearlessly and well done. I bet Bob and Kathy were beaming, along with Alex's mom and dad.