Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Taking Life in the Slow Lane

I spent the night watching the movie Cars with my wife and kids.

It's a cute movie, and it shares a common cinema theme: Life in the slow lane.

Up-and-coming race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) gets stuck in a small town along Route 66. Unfortunately for town residents, I-40 now bypasses Radiator Springs. No one comes to town any more. Life is at a slower pace.

The movie Doc Hollywood comes to mind. Several more, too.

It's a romantic notion -- giving up the fast-paced dog-eat-dog world for something slower and more meaningful. Most of us would agree that life really should be about the journey and not the destination. Smelling roses and all that.

We agree. And then we go to sleep. And then we get up at the unholy hour of 6 a.m. and jump back into the rat race. Rinse and repeat.

I've found myself at that fork in the road many times. I usually give props to the slow lane but inevitably end up back in that left lane again. Something about hardwiring, I guess.

Given how often the slow-lane theme finds its way into popular culture, it seems I have good company.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how we spend our time now that we do not have to invest all day feeding ourselves. I wonder why we wear neckties and pantyhose. I wonder why we choose to work so much just to pay someone else to watch our kids.

It's always seemed foolish to me. Still does. But it's hard to go about bucking the system. I've never been a "system" guy -- just ask my parents. But as one Bloomington, Indiana, resident once said, "I fight authority, and authority always wins."

Nonetheless, it is a good time to be a dad. Nowadays, you get to watch movies with your kids that entertain you and them, and even encourage the occasional life introspection. Not too bad for an evening in the slow lane.


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