Glance in the rear-view mirror, but don't linger for a long stare. Catch a glimpse of what's behind you, knowing with every mile-marker it gets further and further away. Don't get so distracted by what you see that you lose your way. Turning back to the present, focusing your eyes on the future, should never be jarring.
Keep your hands on the wheel. A pothole could rattle the tire, tug you off course. That small slick of water could be deeper than you ever expected and leave you gliding above the ground. Don't white knuckle it but don't get cocky and think you always have it all under control. You don't.
Move at a comfortable speed, fast enough to enjoy the journey but not so fast that everything whirs by in a blur. Crack the window to smell the snow pelting your windshield. Soak in the full moon so low it almost sits on the horizon. Smile at the tired trucker on his tenth straight hour moving oranges to Walmart, desk chairs to Ikea, pens to Staples.
Be patient. There will be obstacles like heavy rainstorms that will erase the lines. Worse yet, there will be times you're at a complete standstill, a sea of brake lights before you. Remain calm. Exhale that you are safe. Turn up the volume and sing louder to My Dear, Sweet Nothing, Funky Kingston. Shrug at the drivers behind you who grumpily slam their fists against the steering wheel.
Listen, leaning on the horn never made a traffic jam untangle itself. Just as the person on the phone, the one dangerously drifting between lanes, is perhaps receiving tragic news. And anyway, it wasn't my fault the coin machine at the toll plaza ate two of my quarters but only registered one, leaving me to dig through my purse at the last minute in an attempt to scrape together two dimes and one last nickel. Be empathetic. It makes us all better human beings.
But for as useless as rage can be, as selfish and unproductive the results, I'll admit that sometimes it feels good to raise your right hand and flip off the person who is riding your ass from behind, high-beams blinding you as they bounce off the rear-view mirror. You glance through a squint, raise your hand and extend your middle finger, the glare curving around your gesture.
"Asshole," you mutter.
As traffic clears, as you inch your way forward, first by lifting your foot off the brake and next by slowly stepping on the gas, glance one last time in your rear-view mirror. See the assholes that wronged you, the experiences that shaped you, and the love that surrounded you. Be reminded of the moments you hope to live again. Laugh at the ones that you hope to never experience more than once.
Then turn your attention back to the open road before you, a stretch of macadam destined to contain everything you aspire to experience and many things you could have never dreamed for yourself. Turn up the radio. Accelerate through turns. Enjoy the moment. Be excited for what is just around the bend.