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You only live once
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Last month, I got caught in the massive hail storm while teaching in Stockbridge. I took a picture of the larger than a golf ball-sized hail that pummeled the houses and cars in the Monarch Village neighborhood.

The damages were so extensive that insurance companies were flooded with claims and people are still waiting for assistance.

The cost of damages to Sydney (my Nissan) was more than $5,000, while my friend’s car was declared a total loss.

I finally got Sydney back and didn’t realize that I had been driving around in a rental for 20 days.

But what struck me the most was the trip timer on the dash as I was returning the rental.

Between my multiple jobs, responsibilities and activities, I always knew that the amount of time I spend in my car and the miles that I rack up are above average.

I have to get my oil changed every month and a half as opposed to the typical three months.

When I happened to notice the trip timer, the black and white numbers were even startling to me.

The trip timer read 89:40:26 as I handed over the keys to the rental. It gave me pause. That’s 89 hours, 40 minutes, and 26 seconds that I spent driving in the 20 day period. A quick calculation made me realize that in those 20 days, I’ve spent more than 3.5 days behind the wheel.

That realization, for whatever reason, won’t leave my mind. Perhaps it’s the perspective of what can be done in the span of 3.5 days.

Three full days of sitting behind the wheel in Atlanta (McDonough, Conyers, Stockbridge and Covington) traffic seems a bit much. I start to think about why I was driving as much as I do. It always seems to be more and more driving – never less and less.

I actually enjoy driving and it helps to have a fun car to drive. There are also plenty of tunes in my iTunes library to blast through the speakers to make the distances shrink.

On days when I need the silence, the miles in between destinations are a good source of reflecting and thinking and even praying.

With the numbers from the trip timer still etched in my brain, I think about my friend who also has a grueling commute from her house in Conyers to her job in Sandy Springs and back in rush-hour traffic.

I think she told me once that it takes her three hours to and from work each day. Every day. She spends her time in her car listening to sermons on the radio and the Bible on tape. She’s one of the happiest people I’ve ever met. I think that’s what gets her through her travels – God and his word. I’d imagine I would need it too, to not succumb to road rage every day.

My own days filled with driving shouldn’t really be a shock to anyone who has lived in Atlanta for any number of years. We are Atlantians.

Driving is what we do. I remember once in college, in an economics class, we had a discussion on the economic impact of just how Atlanta grows – not up like NYC with higher and higher skyscrapers.

No, Atlanta has the problem of urban sprawl like spreading kudzu.

Atlanta continues to grow outward, incorporating more and more cities and counties under the “Metro Atlanta” umbrella. In that same class, we discussed how it was proposed to include Macon as metro Atlanta.
Considering that’s a distance of more than 76 miles, that’s absurd.

But for as many miles as I continue to rack up, I think that for me, it’s worth it – in time and in money – if I love what I’m doing. I love my jobs and I love my family and friends (and dare I say my co-workers?), so the miles traveled don’t matter except for the occasional exhaustion of a stressful week.

You only live once and it shouldn’t be spent on countless hours of doing something you don’t even like much less love. I surround myself with people who mean the world to me and matter in my life.

I’m definitely not a friend collector like some people are on Facebook. Quality matters over quantity.

Unless it’s gas. I don’t even want to begin to do the math and calculate how much money I’ve spent on gas in those 20 days…

YOLO!! Make it count.

Nhi Ho is a copy editor for The Covington News. She can be reached at