Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The road you are on

"Roads are what we make of them."

Those words struck me and I can't get them out of my head.

They come from the book Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt (181) from a chapter in which he is describing a trip he took in Spain. One road he mistakenly took was through rural Spain that turned out to be "a climbing, twisting, broken-asphalt nightmare of blind hairpin turns." One of the few signs he saw said PELIGRO. How did he do? Just fine - because he took it incredibly slow and was intently focused on trying not to drive off the edge of a cliff. Later he was on a smooth, flat road with plenty of visibility and plenty of signage. What happened? He was so bored he started to fall asleep and almost ran off the road.

Actions like this are examples of the Peltzman Effect: the idea that when given warning signals or when provided with a safer environment, people tend to then offset the safety efforts by behaving in riskier ways.

We can be on a safe road and make it dangerous by our actions, or lack of them.

We can have a care-free day and fill it with worry. We can drive along with great company and fill it with silence. We can take a challenging road and grow with it, or avoid it all-together.

Our parenting, marriages, relationships, work, recreation, school, abilities, styles ... are what we make of them

Roads are what we make of them.

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