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Cruise Control

Story ID:2686
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Life USA and Canada
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Cruise Control

I drove down the highway in the right hand lane. My cruise
control was on. I approached a slower moving vehicle. In my side
mirror, I saw a car moving up on my left. It was too close for
me to switch lanes. I had to wait until it passed.

The car ahead grew closer. The one to the left was slowly
overtaking and passing me. My eyes shifted back-and-forth between
the car ahead and the one to my left which had almost passed me.
With little room to spare, the car on the left moved ahead. I was
able to switch lanes, before touching my brakes, and shutting
off the cruise control.

The above situation happens many times each week. "Why don't
you want to turn the cruise control off?" I ask myself.

I think it's because I'm cruising along at a steady speed.
Life is moving forward. I'm happy. The pace is perfect for me.
An obstacle appears in the distance. It gets bigger and bigger.
Life has to slow down. A change is coming. I have to tap my

In the mid-nineties, Georgia and I were cruising. I had a
job I liked, two young kids and a beautiful home on the ocean.
We rolled down life's highway with the cruise control on. An
obstacle appeared - my company announced layoffs. I slammed on
the brakes.

It took a year to find another job. It was like we were
behind a truck on a long uphill climb. We moved to another city,
settled in, and put life on cruise again.

Three years later, the new company announced they were
selling part of their holdings. I saw the truck in the distance
again, but this time I quickly changed jobs - switched lanes - and
moved from Canada to the USA.

The pattern continued. We cruised for awhile, but I kept my
foot close to the brake pedal. We knew the future held obstacles.

I slammed on my brakes and came to a complete stop. Ahead
were miles of cars. They surrounded me, squeezed close on all
sides, and invaded my space. I'd been told, "Mr. Smith, there
is nothing more we can do. Georgia is very sick. It is time to
turn off the life support."

We inched through the traffic. After what seemed like a
long time, I passed the wreck and saw the screen on the monitor
connected to her. It had been counting her heartbeats, but now
the small dot followed a flat line.

Traffic inched around the obstacle. It was slow going. The
miles passed. My speed picked up. I found myself moving faster,
but there was still too much traffic to use my cruise control.
There were still too many obstacles to deal with.

I pulled off the main road and drove leisurely along. It
was time to get my life onto a less clogged highway. The road
wound around sharp turns. It rolled over emotional hills. It
was slow but healing - comforting.

I met Ginny and hit the cruise control again. Life was going
well. The road ahead was clear for hundreds of miles. The pavement
was smooth. We turned a corner. My foot touched the brake. My
stepdaughter, Heather, and her three boys moved in. It was time
for all of us to push down on our brake pedals.

Heather and the boys moved out. They are on an open highway
and cruising along. Ginny and I moved into another clear lane.
Life for all of us is moving on a traffic-free highway.


What's that in the distance?

The road is never clear!

Michael T. Smith