Charissa's Reviews > Zen Driving

Zen Driving by K.T. Berger
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's review
Nov 23, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: dharma, crack, all-time-faves
Recommended to Charissa by: Derek DeWitt, bastard extraordinaire
Recommended for: drivers who annoy me
Read in January, 1997

I was given this book as a joke way back in the 80s by my friend Derek. Derek was the kind of guy that, when most people met him, usually people said, "Wow, what an asshole!". But if you could get past his usual abrasive personality and predeliction for scathing reparte, Derek was a great friend; at times very soulful... almost always funny. So he gave this book to me after hearing the story of how, at age 16, I had driven the white 1967 Pontiac Bonneville stationwagon I had been given for Christmas into a vineyard. I did not yet have my drivers license at age 16... and some might argue I was unqualified to be driving. Okay, the fact that I wound up driving into a vineyard is probably a dead giveaway that I was unqualified to be driving. But I was 16 and, you know, I knew everything then. I blame the CocaCola, which rolled off the seat onto the floor, requiring me to lean down to find it. Nevermind that I forgot to keep watching where I was going. I blame the CocaCola.

Anyway... the point is... Derek gave the book to me as a joke. A pointed joke. A jibe at my troubled history, which was a source of constant entertainment to us all. Well, to be fair, we all afforded each other with fairly constant entertainment by our rather ridiculous mishaps. But I may or may not have been the most ridiculous of all.

However, ultimately, I had the last laugh. The book turned out to be quite wonderful when I got around to reading it 10 years later. Having actually learned to drive by then... and mostly having figured out how to keep my eyes on the road... I realized when I read this book that I actually mostly practiced Zen Driving. The way of finding the rhythm of the road. To be in synch with the hum and flow of traffic. The find one's own place in the scheme of things, relaxed and present, ready to respond to what breaks and curls and recedes. Like surfing.

I may need to find another copy of this book and re-read it. I'm fairly certain that it's not terribly Zen to drive around thinking that other people are not driving in the correct rhythm, and that if they would just get it right I could drive the way I should be able to, goddamn it! It also is probably not Zen to shout obscenities to people for not signalling soon enough, changing lanes too slowly, and driving *exactly* at the speed limit in a no-passing zone on a two lane road. Yeah, I'm definitely no Thich Nhat Hahn. In the Buddha Dharma Club they would totally take my saffron robes away and send me out to the hut to meditate on a single kernel of rice for 97 hours with no space heater.

But hey, maybe if everyone else reads this book and drives the Zen Way I will never be bothered by crappy drivers again!! Yeah, that's the ticket. I think that would be very Zen. Right?
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Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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message 1: by Karen (new)

Karen I love your review of this book, you have such a great way of writing and your humor cracks me up.

Charissa Thanks Karen! That'll be $2.00 please. ; )

message 3: by Karen (new)

Karen I'll buy you a drink if you're ever in town! :-)

Charissa awesome sauce! uhm... what town was that? ::::jumps in her car:::

message 5: by Karen (new)

Karen Well, that would be "sunny" Portland. I just looked at your curly-cue website...incredible art, you're very talented! Is all of it your artwork?

Charissa Oh I love Portland. There's quite a few of you awesome Goodreaders up there, aren't there?

Well thanks! That's very sweet. Yes indeed, that's all my stuff. I'm a busy little bee. : ) I just posted some new products on my Etsy store. I'm very excited about my spring line. Making stuff is fun!

message 7: by Karen (new)

Karen We do seem to have a lot of people on here from Portland. Must be all the great bookstores. I love that I can be on the train and see a huge mass of people reading while going to and from work, go to the parks and people are sitting on benches or in the grass reading, or go to bookstores and coffee shops filled with people all reading. It warms my heart. :-)

Charissa yeah, Portland seems like a very literate town. If I could take the weather I'd probably be quite content living there. Who knows, I have an aunt who lives in Hood River. Maybe someday I'll wind up there. My daughter wants to settle there when she finishes high school. Her brother (from her dad's first marriage) lives there and is attending University. She is interested in the mod/skinhead (SHARP) community there. Lord knows it's friggin expensive here.

message 9: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Did someone say Portland??? Books??? Coffee???

Ahem, I have to say though, my dear Charissa, that there is nothing Zen about my driving. I am a perfectly kind and reasonable person in every other atmosphere but, put me behind the wheel of a car, and I am a changed person! Everyone looses half their IQ points straight away and I want to ram them with my car!! In fact I have this whole "paint ball theory" where I am the supreme judge, and if you drive like an idiot I shoot your car with my own special paint ball. As a result they take your car and license and you aren’t allowed to drive again until completing several extensive and expensive driving classes! Of course if the infraction is severe enough, you get public transport for life! :) Apparently dictatorships are fine as long as I am the dictator? It would cut down on gridlock quite a bit I think.

P.S. Steve Mort, consider yourself paintballed!

Charissa LOL!!! That's an awesome idea!! I have a paintball gun... I wish I could use it on the road. I'm certain I would be arrested and/or placed in a padded room should I indulge that fantasy though. Too bad... it would definitely improve the roads if we had carte blanche.

If I'm ever in Portland, Amy dear, I hope you'll meet me for coffee.

message 11: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Without question! If you're ever here I'll meet you for coffee at my "Happiest Place on Earth!" It's a new and used bookstore downtown called Powell's that takes up a city block! There is a coffee shop inside, you'll love it! Whenever that daughter of yours drags you up here, just drop me a line.

message 12: by Karen (new)

Karen Aaah Powell's....! I've been fighting the bug to go there all week in an effort to save money. Amy, did you hear that they're adding another floor onto Powell's?

Amy and Charissa crack me up about the driving. I moved from a small midwest town, where three cars on the road was considered rush hour, to Phoenix. Needless to say I adapted an aggressive way of driving, scaring family members when they visited. I then moved to Portland where traffic is better than Phoenix, but it's getting worse lately. A nice thing about Portland is that I don't need to drive. In fact, I gave up my car almost two years ago. But I'm still planning on reading "Zen Driving" because Charissa's review is so great.

message 13: by Amelia (new)

Amelia A whole new floor? The Lavender room? The Puce room? The Periwinkle room??? How marvelous, I hadn't heard and I can't wait! I was just there last Friday, but I was on a "first date", so I wasn't noticing much... when? Tell, me, what is your favorite room? I could spend days and days in the blue room!

When I lived downtown I never drove either, and I went to Powell's at least once a week!

message 14: by Karen (new)

Karen I had heard that it would be another floor but maybe more, and that they're bringing the technical books back. There's an article that I just found on their website that says depending on design options that they're working on, the southeast corner could grow by as many as three stories. Wow! Your questions on the color of the room made me think that maybe Powell's should have a contest to name the color(s).

My favorite room? I'm not sure, I wander around so much because they all have something I like. Last weekend I never moved out of the green room. A friend was visiting last fall so I took her to Powell's. The look on her face when we walked in was priceless!

Here's a link to the article on their website:

message 15: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Thanks Karen! I had a look, how exciting, I will be looking forward to that! Though, I am a little upset at the demolishing of my beloved blue room...

message 16: by Karen (new)

Karen I know, I thought of that when I read the article. But, the blue and green room will reopen at the end of that year. Hopefully it just means an improvement. It will be weird if they make everything too "new" looking; Powell's has that charm of being old and bare-bones. Before the demolition they should hold a wake to say goodbye. There's so much press they can pick up from this whole thing if they play it right.

message 17: by Monica (last edited Feb 07, 2008 09:03PM) (new)

Monica I was going to respond to Charissa's Zen Driving review but just tonight my girlfriend said she wants to paint her living room burnt sienna, or periwinkle. I looked at Powell's photo gallery and it is severely lacking pictures of these blue, green and orange rooms you describe. I was dying to see them. If anyone has pics please post em.

Monica, a Zen driver who enjoys the landscape, the architecture, not worrying about other people racing to get to the stop light first. I drive slow everywhere except NYC and then it can be slow with the traffic so you can enjoy the view anyway. My dad really gets upset when I look at things while we're driving. I don't get it. Well, he's 84 and blind in one eye so it's not as easy for him. I don't mind waiting at a stop light, in line at the store, or anywhere. A steady yoga practice, or regular exercise of any variety helps with that road rage. I used to give people the finger and not let them pass. Now I laugh and say, "Whatever. Go ahead. Knock yourself out!"

message 18: by Karen (new)

Karen Hi Monica,

The rooms aren't actually painted the colors that they're named. It's a classification so that you know where to find each genre of books. You can get lost in the place, it's an entire city block and four levels. In fact, their motto is "get lost in the city of books". And they have maps of the store available. I prefer to wander and get lost, it's much more fun.

I see you're in Royal Oak; I'm a Michigander originally. Hence the comment about driving in a small midwest town.

message 19: by Monica (last edited Feb 07, 2008 09:54PM) (new)

Monica Ah, ha! Karen, nice to meet you. It's a winter wonderland here we got a good dose of snow last night and everything's snow capped. How long has it been since you've been in Mich? (R.O.) specifically.

message 20: by Karen (new)

Karen I heard about the snow, you're so lucky! My sister lives there and she posted photos on her blog of their kids playing in the snow, it's beautiful.

I moved from Michigan in 1995 and was only back there twice, in 2000 and 2006. It's been years since I was in the Royal Oak area. I lived in Saginaw, Bridgeport and Frankenmuth. Much smaller towns than yours, that's for sure.

message 21: by Monica (last edited Feb 07, 2008 11:28PM) (new)

Monica It's perfect snowman making snow. Snow like from the old days. Naturally I like Frankemuth but I'm from NY / went to U of M so really just know A2 and Oakland County. I don't know Saginaw or Bridgeport much. I'll send you a friend request. G'night:) (note it's 2:30 am)

message 22: by Karen (new)

Karen Oh trust me, you're not missing anything at all by not knowing Saginaw and Bridgeport! :-)

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