Life Through the Windscreen


I’m sitting next to Alf as he drives his car. Alf has a variety of moods but could generally be called polite and reasonable. Sometimes in his car he forgets this and suddenly starts shouting out, “You bloody fool. why don’t you watch what you’re doing” or  something from the unprintable catalogue of phrases which I cannot reproduce here.

I have had this idea that we all have little bubbles on the roofs of our cars so that such remarks could be seen by all and sundry. Two possible results spring to mind. The first is that road rage nearly vanishes as people realise they are accountable for what they say and phrase things more comfortably.. The second possibility is that the road turns into a dodgem or bumper car experience,

The truth is we speak like this because we are not accountable and so we say what we are thinking without any editing. If we took this approach into general life a whole medley of results would be possible but few of them would be orderly. Our thoughts are much wilder than our speech or actions, giving us  an exterior  more civilised than our instincts would suggest. Recently there was a television programme in the UK where the behaviour of nurses in an old people’s home was exposed as brutish and bullying. The point is, the residents were largely beyond complaining and the nurses, unsupervised, gave in to primitive temptation. Not all of them it must be said, but a significant number.

I am a reluctant fan of accountability. It holds the wild man in check and makes the world a safer place.  Where accountability ceases to be so evident man is capable of acting in way which shocks and appall us. The horrors of Nazi Germany, and currently some of the antics in Libya by the Gaddafi clan spring to mind. Against the background of man’s ability to disappoint himself stand out examples of selflessness and heroism which are remarkable given the general trend but the opposite is often the case.

What this says about us I am not sure, but it often seems to be the case that the deeper you plunge into space or the ocean depths the more alien existence appears. This may be true of our own psyche. The primitive being within us all lurks stealthily waiting for the chance to express himself. Wether he should be given a greater sight of the sunlight  or be walled up in conventions and codes of conduct is a question I often ask myself. As with deep-sea voyaging, or space travel, few of us are given the chance to explore or express our deepest instinctive psyche. Accountability, either from above or from societies expectations seems to hold us in check. In these circumstances I wonder if “not be able to express oneself” may be a greater benefit than I originally imagined.

Like all explorer’s, some return from their voyage with tales of adventure and the spoils and mementos of their experience. Those who voyage deep within themselves can return with some great insight, or through words, paint or music record the experience of their adventure. Thus I wonder who do we pity more. Those who stay on the surface of things, avoiding all reference to the depths within, or those wild  adventurers who cannot but explore those unlit twilight zones and find themselves sacrificed on the altar of discovery.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in community, creative writing, faith, Life, life2, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Life Through the Windscreen

  1. Caroline says:

    Wow! You’ve given me a great deal to think about. And I shall as I drive to my life coaching session. Thank you!

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  2. Lady E says:

    I think this is one of your best posts yet Counting Ducks! I’ve often reflected about the darkness that lurks within all of us, humans’ astonishing ability to imagine ways in which to inflict pain on others, our deepest instincts…
    And wondering whether I would have been one of the compassionate nurses, or part of the Resistance in nazi Germany, for example. What really lies deep within me?
    Thanks for this deeply thought-provoking post!

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  3. Caroline says:

    Those who stay on the surface of things, avoiding all reference to the depths within, or those wild adventurers who cannot but explore those unlit twilight zones and find themselves sacrificed on the altar of discovery.

    I’ve pondered on this a great deal this morning. Especially as I have set about learning more about me. What makes me tick, do what I do, behave the way I do. It has been the most stunningly positive experience.
    I believe that so many of our more outlandish, negative responses and behaviours are driven from a deep-rooted feeling of fear. Often so deep-rooted we’ve come to accept it as part of being us and so don’t appreciate the destructive nature of the force.
    We’ve all hear people say “I couldn’t help it. I just had to do it”. If fear is the driving force (and by that I don’t mean a positive fear there to look after us – but a negative emotion.) Then what happens next can indeed be destructive – not just for those around us but for ourselves.

    So I don’t believe the true adventurers are sacrificed on the altar of discovery – unless the sacrifice is actually the moment when they discover the true amazing being they are within. The one not living in fear.

    Caroline

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  4. Big Al says:

    Keeping our “dark side” in check is hard work.The toll it takes probably accounts for many of the physical ills we encounter. But, yes, it is necessary for the survival of the species. This is a hard one to figure, but you’re far ahead of the rest of us.

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  5. nelle says:

    Whenever there is anarchy and reports from anarchical areas, one can reasonably expect to see stories of widespread sexual assault, even amongst troops of the same force. The US military contends with this issue…women in the ranks have to contend with those they oppose as well as their colleagues.

    When I see calls for less government, I think of the importance of government to civilisation, the role it plays, creating a framework we know and strive to abide by. Freedom is a precious thing. It should create space to speak our views, to pursue our dreams, yet it still requires we respect the fact our rights end where those of another begin. We need each other to advance civilisation, we need each other, working together, assisting those who stumble, helping those in need. The more we attempt to move away from this model to some wild west version of freedom, the more a few will dominate, the more any one person stands exposed to those who respect not where the rights of another begin.

    In the US, a nation built on freedom, there is constant pressure from forces to squelch those who challenge for a place in the sun. Women, squelched by patriarchy. People of colour, squelched by institutionalised prejudice, lgbt folk, marginalised by ignorance, and all of it rooted in ignorance and insecurity towards diversity. Remove the framework, and ugly things would sprout anew, fed by these latent, dark feelings.

    On a lighter note on drive time attitudes, mine used to be a one hour, one way commute. Whenever a state trooper was in the vicinity, cars moved at or near the posted limit. I’d chuckle, because the highway officers don’t bother anyone within a certain range above the speed limit. One day, it occurred that bubbles popped above each car, deploying like an air bag a shiny yellow halo, sporting it like a proud peacock for the passing trooper. And when the officer was out of sight, traffic resumed its harried pace.

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  6. Barbara says:

    I must admit I am very much like Alf. I think if I didn’t blow when by myself in the car I would explode in other ways. Having a pressure release, such as spewing obscenities at total strangers who apparently don’t know how to drive, and can’t hear me, saves me a lot of money for therapy.

    We all have a dark side to some degree. It’s how we handle ourselves when it really matters that counts. You’ve opened up a very interesting topic again Peter! Well done.
    b

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  7. Myyyy, How I love your posts. Every. Single. One.
    I can ponder & savor & reflect.
    Accountability is what makes us somewhat sane, I suppose….But the world is INSANE, isn’t it?
    I express thru writing… This is my SANITY 🙂
    I looooooooooooooooooove your flow….& words. xx

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  8. Julie says:

    I believe the latter is more pitied. Such a pity.

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  9. The Last King of Scotland just sprung into my mind once reading this it’s where the optimism of youth meets the darkness of a monster. If we are to live in free democratic society people must be held accountable for their actions and words. It’s when we brush it off then that’s when society begins to spiral into trouble…

    On a lighter note I once flipped the bird to an undercover officer. Oops! Speaking of being accountable…

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  10. backonmyown says:

    Well done, ducks. It’s a lot to think about.
    When you spoke of Alf and his driving outbursts it reminded me of something from years ago. I was driving along with my 15-month-old daughter in the car. We stopped at a red light. There was another car in front of us. My little one said, “Well, would you move on, lady?” Now where do you suppose she heard that? That was the first time I realized how much I talked to and scolded other drivers. Out of the mouths of babes as they say.
    As for the dark and evil side of us…I don’t like to think about it. Hopefully most of us won’t be called upon to go to the depths that the Nazis did.

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  11. I thnk we all need sanity in order to deal with the insane. You always have my mind going when you write. I get engrossed, and want to talk to someone about whatever you write :). Never lose this voice

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  12. Driving in Dubai we are all Alfs! We have 100 different nationalities and 150 different sets of driving rules and a certain part of the population who think rules are for other people! I’m with Barbara on this, sometimes its good to let off steam in a way that doesn’t hurt or offend people. And its also really good to remember not to be an Alf in a convertible!!

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  13. eof737 says:

    Well said! We are liable for our words and actions and I take delight in letting off steam in my car… It has some fun moments too. 😉

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  14. Most people are afraid to look inside, really look inside. It’s easier to slide along the surface and escape the reality of our inner life, which is the only life that matters. But when you look inside, the discovery is miraculous. It’s often difficult but it’s always rewarding. What’s there to be afraid of? It’s only us inside there…

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  15. Shonnie says:

    as per usual — gREAT POST my friend

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