Life like a highway
In July and early August I enjoyed my regular trip home to Ontario. On my trips home I have a lot of running around to do, which means I always have to borrow my mother’s car. She worries about safety, fearing that my driving skills have deteriorated during my long absences. But I am a good driver, and I enjoy the driving - in the city but also in the country. So, this idea occurred to me: if we compare life to a highway, then not only our success but also our character can be estimated by how we drive, and by our choices of vehicle and highway. Now, in Ontariothe premier highway is the 401 freeway, extending from Windsor on the border with Detroit, U.S.A., to the Quebecborder in the east. It follows the flow of water through the lakes and all the major cities are found on or near it. It runs straight through the city ofToronto and experiences extreme congestion, earning a near-demonic reputation. My hometown, Guelph, is north of the 401 but is quickly expanding south towards the freeway with the building of subdivisions that has been going on for the last thirty years to house people who fled the rising cost of living in Toronto. Perhaps someday Guelph will reach the highway. Or, maybe not.
Highway 7 is a provincial highway that sort of runs parallel to the major freeway. It passes through the north end of Guelph and meanders through the countryside connecting many cities and towns - Acton, Rockwood, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, New Hamburg, Shakespeare, Stratford, etc. To drive Highway 7 is to take a trip through farm country. It’s a slower pace. The towns are small-to-medium, there is a lot of corn outside the windows. To drive the 401 is faster and you hit all the big centers, although heavy tractor trailer transport and commuter traffic can make for a headache. When the 401 gets jammed, the smaller highways are the way to go. I imagine 401 drivers to be in Life’s fast lane. They are affluent. They are business owners or business leaders. They own large houses, cottages, drive expensive cars and have their children’s college trust funds all taken care of. Employers drive the 401. Employees drive the 7. Highway 7 drivers go along in old Volkswagens. They struggle with finances. They shop at Wal-Mart.
So, what kind of a driver am I? Where do I belong in the highway of Life? I have a friend, Todd, who is a Highway 7 kind of guy. Born and raised in a village, he is a farmer at heart, a wholly rural man. He persists in trying to live in the big city but he always spoils it and ends up back in his home village, driving the country roads, living as a boarder with friends and family, or out of his truck like an itinerant. I am not like Todd, but I do enjoy the Highway 7 scenery sometimes. I can tear down the freeway at speed, too. Not in a Cadillac, but I can still match anyone’s speed. I can drive in the big city, and I have done, but the stress of it causes me much distraction. Sort of like being in love.