The Sidewalk Dance of Social Distancing


Going for a walk in our neighborhood, it is delightful to engage in social distancing with other walkers and joggers. People move onto the grass to give safe passage to the walkers they meet. The walkers wave in thanks. Joggers will go into the street’s bike path until the walkers have passed. For many, this virus has brought an increase is situational awareness and collaboration.

The skills of situational awareness and collaboration will serve us well when we again share the roads with many other drivers. Driving is the largest scale cooperative activity we engage in. From the air over a large city, we can see it for the beautiful collaboration that it is. We can also see the few people who make things unpredictable and unsafe. While they are the exceptions, when we are driving, we can stay preoccupied with them.

Collaborative driving involves knowing where you are in the flow of traffic and what your role is at any given time. It only works by following the rules and best practices, just like coronavirus safety. This is a sacred responsibility. Just as with social distancing, with driving, someone’s life is in your hands while your life in in theirs. Sometimes the thing to do is yield to another driver. Other times it is to speed up to make room for them merging. At all times, it is to be calm, aware and in the spirit of wishing everyone well.

Many of us are hoping we can come out of this crisis able to live the awareness of mutual vulnerability and mutual responsibility far better than we did before. Driving is one arena for doing that.

The sidewalk dance of social distancing is a thing of beauty and joy. Driving that way is even more so.