I learned to walk long before I learned to drive, but driving taught me how to move with the herd: When to go. When to yield. How to signal your intent. How to pass another car. And above all, the importance of Keeping Right.
Forty-odd years of this, and now I walk like a car. Others don’t. But I seem to have internalized the rules.
I proceed in a straight line. I stop for cross traffic. I keep right. I move out smoothly and silently on rubber-soled shoes. In an office building, at the intersection of two corridors, you won’t heard me coming. If you turn left and cut the corner close — if you don’t keep right — you’ll come face to face with six feet of swarthy Iberian, moving at speed. People have screamed.
Screams get my attention. Otherwise, I’m not present. My mind’s off in la-la land somewhere while my body shifts for itself with the rules from the DMV handbook. It’s that, or walk into walls.
The conscious mind, I’ve learned, is the self-important CEO who thinks that he runs the company single-handedly. He doesn’t. It’s the flunkies in the back office who write the budget, upgrade the servers, book the AR and even choose new carpet colors. All that the conscious mind does is sign off.
I do so many things without thinking. I walk into a room with an envelope in my hand; my wife asks my assistance. I go to her, ready for a task that requires both hands. The conscious mind is already thinking of Wife, so the eye and hand and a bundle of rogue neurons back beyond my music center work together collaborate to put the envelope down on some safe surface.
Later, I will wonder where I left the envelope. And I will have no clue. Because “I” didn’t leave the envelope anywhere. The back office took care of it without me. The back office thinks on its own.
I call it the back office, but frankly, I’m not quite sure who or what’s in here with me. All I know is, one or more semi-independent operators handle a lot of the little actions and decisions, and none of them are “me.” Whatever “me” is. But they’re helpful: I even trained the back office to count reps for me while I’m on the rowing machine. It’s way more accurate than I am.
All in all, I’m grateful. The back office does the little things for me, and I get to stride along and think great thoughts. Or, think no thoughts at all.
And walk like a car.