“Wir fahrn, fahrn fahrn fahrn auf der Autobahn …” who still knows the song? The band “Kraftwerk” released it in 1974 and as I write this article, it is playing in the background. This version lasts 34 minutes, which is quite long. For the fact that the song doesn’t really contain many lyrics. But highway driving is the same, lots of time, little content. I think the song is pretty cool. Sometimes. Why only?
Gerhard Zirkel

Is a highway shamanic?

But why am I writing about highways and long songs now? It’s not about the song, but actually about the highway, at least metaphorically. I’ve just been to Gran Canaria and drove from Maspalomas on the highway to Telde. Three lanes, reasonably bearable traffic.

And as is the case when driving on the highway, I thought about this and that. I’ve driven a lot of highways in my life, most of them in Germany, of course, because that’s where I’ve spent most of my time.

It’s exciting to see the different types of riders there are and, depending on my mood, I’ve been able to recognize almost all of them. Including the tailgater, I have to admit, even though I don’t like him at all, I personally find that quite rude. I haven’t done that often either. Really not.

Sometimes I was fast, then slow again. Sometimes comfortably in the right lane, no matter how slow I was going, sometimes at over 200 km/h in the left lane, leaving (almost) everyone behind me.

There are those who always stay on the right, others are always on the left, some sneak in the middle lane, others are sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left and others somewhere in between. In Mexico, for example. You wouldn’t believe how many lanes a three-lane Mexican highway can have …

Sometimes …

Sometimes you don’t want to leave the right-hand lane at all. Because it bobs along so comfortably and you don’t have to be so careful behind the truck at 80 km/h. And because as soon as you pull to the left, you often become the target of “speeders”, who don’t find it funny when they come roaring along at 200 km/h and you pull out at 80.

You’ll attract hatred, obstruct someone and have to endure the headlights.

Of course, you then accelerate and maybe even enough to overtake the tailgater, which is probably quite embarrassing for him. That’s going to get you a hater’s retort, but who cares if it comes from far behind?

But first you have to overcome the challenge of pulling out to the left. To put up with disturbing someone. To attract criticism. To stand out. Perhaps even negative. Phew, it’s better to stay to the right. Even if it might only go on at 60 or even less. But before you face the criticism of others, it’s better not to say anything.

Until you can’t go any further and you’re either in the right-hand lane or you get over yourself. Not easy at all. Especially when you are already stationary and traffic is still flowing to your left. How are you supposed to get out then? No one ever lets you in anyway. All rude show-offs. All of them!

What have I really been thinking about?

Not about highways and lanes, but about life and how to act in it. Or formulated as a question: Which lane are you driving in?

Are you on the far right, out of sheer comfort or fear? Or because you think you can’t do any more? Watching everyone pass you by? Do you know that they all arrive long before you get anywhere? Do you also prefer to stop completely on the right rather than pulling out to the left and accelerating?

Because you might be jostled or honked at from behind? Because you might have to push your way out. Because then you become visible and naturally have to step on the gas? Because there is no one on the left to invite you and you have to take your own place?

And you don’t like that? Taking what you need for yourself? Yes, who else is going to give you that? Is someone coming to serve you? Not on the highway and not in life either.

Again and again

I hear this from time to time from people who actually want to, but don’t dare to be able to. They actually know where they want to go, they have the skills, but they don’t dare to change lanes.

It’s better to stay right behind the truck, the boss, the parents, the partner, all the excuses, even if you can’t go any further at some point.

Are left-hand drivers also the absolute evil for you? With their fat show-off cars and the arrogance of wanting to drive faster than others? Is there perhaps a bit of envy because you would also like to overtake?

Or do you think you can’t go any faster? Maybe because your whole family has always been on the right track? Don’t you want to be the first to drop out? Or have you heard about Uncle Willi, who tried that once and then failed and now nobody dares to do anything because nobody likes to be like Willi?

Are you waiting for the long gap on the left where you can pull out without having to squeeze in? Are you perhaps waiting for the big invitation?

The metaphor

I think the highway metaphor is pretty apt. Because the question in life is also: do you stay to the right, take what you are given and sneak along? Or do you change lanes and drive at your own pace, even at the risk of being much faster than everyone else?

You can, because life doesn’t just have two or three tracks, it has an infinite number, including one for you. Who knows YOUR pace. If you always stay to the right, you’ll never find them.

And you are sitting in a car that is definitely faster than 80 km/h for the right-hand lane. And after all, a highway doesn’t just have lanes, but also exits and parking spaces. Ever thought of that? You can drive out at any time, entirely because you are heading for a worthwhile destination next to the highway. Or temporarily, because you’re getting a coffee or simply closing your eyes for a moment. And then you get back on and choose your lane.

You will just have to be active. Yes, that “have to” again. Nobody is forcing you to change your life. You can stay to the right or drive into the ditch and give up. Nobody is forcing you to do anything. You can also continue to make excuses as to why this is not possible.

No problem, nobody will judge you for it, and I certainly won’t. But IF you decide to change your life for the better, THEN you have to do something. And that is to set the blinker and change lanes. And then step on the gas. And THAT is where I can help you.

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