I had driven through the toll gates at the George Washington Bridge and was aiming for a lane that promised transit through the Bronx. Cars whizzed by me on the right and left as mine labored under the strain of a 2,000 pound U-Haul trailer. The gauge that registers the car’s temperature was pushing toward the danger point so I had the heater blowing hot air on me to cool the engine.

At that point—with the cars whizzing by and mine swaying under the weight of the U-Haul and heat blowing at me and my atlas slipping to the floor and reopening on Utah—I thought I should stop by the side of the road to get composed, to cool off, to think things through.

But I looked for a pleasant, tree-shaded, uncluttered rest stop in vain. There was nothing, not even a shoulder where I could park and ponder. I realized, with a dart of panic, that there’s no place to stop on the Cross-Bronx Expressway.

That image comes back to me when life goes faster than I would like. People whiz by me right and left. The weight of my befuddlement pulls me as effectively as the U-Haul on my car. I get overheated amidst sparks of energy emitted by those who surround me. I think it would be nice to withdraw to a neutral spot and contemplate.

But there is no neutral spot. Directions have been set, commitments have been made, processes have begun. It’s like paying the toll on the George Washington Bridgeonce we’re on it, we’re in it.

I must say that I did just fine on the Cross-Bronx Expressway once I made it past the initial moments of fright. I rumbled along, switching lanes with abandon as my trailer swayed, throwing an occasional Honda into a fright. I fancied myself a taxi driver, fearless and free amidst the heat and grime.

And I was glad I hadn’t stopped to cool off and collect my thoughts. The hesitation would have only prolonged the agony. It would have taken that much longer to pick up the rhythm of life going on around me.

If you watch my eyes, you may see an occasional flicker of panic, but don’t regard it with undue seriousness. It’s just the momentary hesitation I sometimes feel before plunging into life.

After all, there’s no place to stop once you’re on the Cross-Bronx Expressway.


from Taking Pictures of God
            by Bruce T. Marshall
            Skinner House Books, Boston, 1996

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