Monday, April 4, 2011

One Road Rule to Live By

Baseball (T-ball) T, cricket bat and whiffle ball.  Matthew makes up his own rules.
I keep going on about the great Australian spirit; the friendliness, the thinking of others, the general 'joie-de-vivre' that makes everyday life that much less stressful and more fun.

I can illustrate in no better way than in traffic.

They might have road rage in Sydney, I don't know, but I certainly haven't seen anything but patience and good humor out our way.

Take it from me; I've been driving on the left hand side of the road- from the right side of the car - for only a few weeks now.  And while I do have it down MOST of the time, there is a LOT of construction going on because of flood damage to roads and bridges.  And while I can drive on the left, take a traffic circle to the left and all sorts of other oddities, they DO throw me a curve ball (which is an AMERICAN analogy, deal with it!) whenever they throw in construction and have us switch into the right lane or turn right or do anything out of the normal here that I have been TRYING hard to convince my brain is NOT okay to do anymore.

Andrew's new b'day bike.

I have the construction crews in stitches sometimes.

"Hey love," said one guy as he came over and asked me to roll down my window, '"technically you're still supposed to go AROUND the ENTIRE traffic circle before turning right."  The sign saying , RIGHT TURN ONLY, didn't make that clear to ME but I guess I should have known.  Instead of disdain and condescension though, which I would have gotten in Germany, I just got a "No worries, love" , a friendly smile and a wave through.

At the NEXT stop, another guy asked me to roll down the window and if I knew where I was going.  "Well, no actually," I said.  "It's my first time here.  I'm looking for a soccer field though."

"Big green thing on your left." the guy answered.  But laughing so hard that the kids in the back seat were in stitches as well.

True story.  Road tolerance and comedy instead of road rage.

Teaching my kids about authority figures.

You notice it when you accidentally try to start in third gear and miss the traffic light.  People behind you laughing and waving out the window instead of cursing at you.  Because people here seem to realize that there are worse things than waiting for a traffic light. 

Or when cars stop to let you finish crossing the street with the kids.  Instead of coming as close as they can because YOU WERE TOO SLOW and YOU MISSED YOUR CHANCE.  (Or honking at you because they want your parking space and you are too slow strapping your two kids into their car seats and putting the stroller in the trunk.  Really.  Never happened to me but apparently a common occurrence in Germany.)

Here people make room for you on the sidewalk.  Or thank you for letting THEM cross the street when YOU are in the car, instead of arrogantly walking across without making eye contact.  Because they have their RIGHTS you know.  (People are REALLY big on THEIR RIGHTS in Germany.)

It's not about the rules and the rights - Germans DO have that down - but its about realizing that it all works better when we think about others besides ourselves.  The roads are safer when we all watch out for eachother.  And less stressful too.

Controlled chaos.

I still think of that guy in Ludwigsburg who refused to relinquish his position in the CENTER of the sidewalk as my four kids tried to find ways around him.  What was the point of all that?  That breeders are inferior?  That he had his right to the sidewalk?

Wouldn't his day - and his life - have been better too if he had smiled at the kids, said hello to the parents, and enjoyed the camaraderie of another group of people out enjoying the same sunshine and greenery that he was?

How much better could his life be if he stopped worrying so much about himself and thought about the needs of others?

The Tao states, more eloquently than I, that rules and rights are poor substitions for the True Way. 

Sometimes rules make no sense.

"Joy to the World."  And stop worrying about who has the right of way.


  1. I love it. I found a moment today to read a few recent blogs and I'm so glad I stopped to read this one. I'm so glad your family has found this life in that wonderful place, and are feeling comfortable and happy there.

  2. Thank you so much Lindsey - I've missed you! I am trying SO HARD not be be negative about Germany but when I see how much HAPPIER people are here, I just want to MAKE THEM SEE!

    I need to get it out and then put it in the BACKGROUND of a novel and stop rubbing everyone's noses in it. I know.

    BUt when I DON"T write - and funny enough - POST - what I feel, I find I can't write AT ALL!

    Honesty is a cruel master!

    Wish I could do it with humor like Liz does!

    Anyhow, so happy to hear from you again. Let's get that support system going - thanks again - CHristine

  3. HAHA I know, it's the roundabouts that really throw you :-))
    Wow. Your perspective really makes me think about things here. Not agreeing or disagreeing, but really wondering if I [empfinde...this is the word that came first] it the way you describe. I don't know. The facts are there (impatience, egocentric behavior, hostility, honking...) but I think I excuse this as a facade masking more complexity within. But to consider how much easier things get if you just reveal instead of ... being a big fat jerk ... we could be happy, just because. OR maybe it's not just a mask, that's all that's there, and my hopes are unfounded. Omigod if that makes any sense.
    Sorry for never reading/commenting until you do. I wasn't waiting or anything ;-) but when I don't write on my blog, I forget to look at everyone else's. Vicious circle.
    It's so great to hear you doing well! May it continue and continue and continue!

  4. Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt!

    Sorry Claire, I DO need to get over it.

    Nothing like sunshine and a beer garden to make the world a better place.