It’s happened to even the most conscientious among us: A simple drive to the grocery store or something gets interrupted by the flicker of blue and red lights in your rear view mirror. Followed by a flush of nervous adrenaline and embarrassment. Your mind swimming with questions: “What on earth did I do? Did I miss a stop sign? Was I speeding? Is my tail light out?”
The officer walks up to your window, you hand her your license and registration, and she asks, “Do you know how fast you were going?” You pause. You think you know how fast you were going. After all, you’re not a speeder. Surely you were pretty close to the speed limit. Maybe 5 over. No more than 10.
But if you have to answer honestly (which you probably should in this situation), you have to say, “No, officer. I don’t know.” To which she replies with a follow-up question: “Do you know what the speed limit is on this road?” Again, you can only guess at best.
“How fast you were going?”
I don’t know.
“What’s the speed limit here?”
I. Don’t. Know.
That’s a problem. A dangerous combination. If you’re lucky, you only get a ticket. If you’re unlucky, you or someone else gets hurt. Or worse.
Within a five-minute drive of where I sit writing this, I know that there are roads with widely different speed limits: 35mph (the standard in-town limit), 25mph (in the nearby school zone), 55mph (on the main road that takes me home), 40mph (as I get closer to home), and 65mph (on the interstate). Five different speed limits that I’m aware of within five minutes from here. They vary based on location, number of lanes, and even changed based on the time of day.
Many of us live our day to day lives unaware of the speed limit, unaware of how fast we’re going. Unaware of the danger. Unaware of the potential casualties.
If we live our entire days at a breakneck speed, we’re asking for trouble. If we live a snail’s pave, we’re probably not doing much good. Maybe the dishes are ok to do at 35mph, but time with the kids is a 25mph zone. Date night is a 10mph crawl. Maybe checking email is fine at 65mph, but a crucial conversation with a coworker is best done at 40mph.
We must learn to pay attention to the subtle speed limit of the Spirit. How fast are you going?
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.