I drive a hybrid Prius and unlike many ecologically-conscious people, I am constantly filled with guilt. There is a disappointing lack of self-righteousness that should have accompanied the warranty. A friend described her Prius driving experience as “Zen-like”, saying she enjoyed the quiet gradual accelerating and braking. Replace “gradual” with “on a dime” and “hairpin” and well, that’s my driving technique. Add in “the joy of startling pedestrians who can’t hear your car” and taking off from a stoplight using the “Power” mode button and I’m the world’s worst Prius driver. I like to augment the quiet of the Prius with window rattling music and occasionally rouse myself to make rude gestures at drivers with cell phones glued to their ears. Can you hear me now? Yes, I care about the environment. And yes, I still drive like I’m in my ’72 Monte Carlo, in high school.
Freud divided the human psyche into three parts. There’s the “id” as the instinctual part of the thought process, driven by pleasure, seeking to avoid tension. You know – the fun part. And then there’s the “ego”, the planner, the realistic but wanting to please portion of your psyche. And finally, the “super-ego”, or every disapproving teacher, relative or friend you have ever had. In your head. I’m not sold on Freud, but I like the visualization of absolute chaos that takes place every day in the human brain. Every day Id suggests pizza for breakfast, while Ego sweetly offers pancakes, in the hopes that the shape will placate. Just when Id settles down for a short stack and syrup, Super-ego stomps in and insists that Id have a grapefruit and bran. Id delightfully digs into the pancakes while Super-Ego passive aggressively harrumphs. Poor Ego keeps trying to serve multigrain English muffins in an attempt to keep everyone happy. And that’s your brain at breakfast. Now take it for a drive and see which one takes the wheel.
I’m getting old enough now to see that my inconsistencies, my dichotomous beliefs, my irrational and completely contradictory behaviors are exactly what make me human. I grew up in an “all or nothing” environment which made it much harder for me to accept that I wasn’t a complete and utter failure because I held so many opposing beliefs. I believe in the pursuit of peace on earth, but spent four years running around with an M16 in a Kevlar helmet (I was in the Army, not just randomly doing this). I believe in the idea of community, but find myself avoiding groups of more than three people. I think you should know your neighbors, but only between the hours of say 5 and 6pm and then I’d like them to mind their own business. I totally embrace making ecologically sound choices, but lord, those cloth diapers were a nightmare and sometimes I want a friggin’ grape out of season.
It takes a long time to appreciate and embrace the absurdities in one’s own head. There are a lot of things I don’t like about myself. I wish I were more consistent and logical. It’s a struggle to come to terms with shades of gray and to accept that you are not going to get things right every time. And it really, truly is okay. Sometimes Id likes to drive even though Ego bought the car and Super-Ego is white-knuckling the door handle while shrieking. I probably should pull over until all the arguing stops.