I have met with a weekly spiritual study group on and off for a decade. We study “A Course in Miracles,” but I have come to believe that the benefit for the group members is not so much the topic we study as it is in the time we spend together.

I think that just having a safe place to go talk is what is responsible for the real life changes our group members experience. Just knowing that I can lay out the worst parts of me and have other people say “Oh, yeah, I do that, too,” like it is no big deal – that is healing to my soul.

One of the subjects that comes up ALL the time for us is driving. Otherwise sane people seem to have a great deal of difficulty driving without resentment, aggression and hatred.

I have a theory: most of our lives are spent in either public places or in private places. In public, we have one code of behavior. We expect a certain amount of interaction with other people and have subtle unspoken rules to make it happen smoothly. We have to face people and to make eye contact.

At home, we have an expectation that we can have our stuff the way we want it and that no one will barge in and mess with it (unless they are our housemates or family members – and that is a whole subject for a different time). We know how things “ought to be” and we work to keep them that way – whether our perfect picture includes dust-free baseboards or the freedom to leave empty pizza boxes untouched for a week.

But our cars are our little private spaces we take out into the world, and a whole clash happens. Our cars act like our larger bodies and serve as our surrogates as we whiz around at 70 mph. So a threat to our car feels like, and often is, a threat to our physical selves. It is the place where we experience how all of our ideas of how things “ought to be” as they clash with others’ notions.

On the road, we often find ourselves behaving in ways that we never would anywhere else. Insulated from real face-to-face contact, we can act like internet trolls, acting badly and then zipping off, never to see the offended party again.

We say “Drive Carefully” but I want to make a bumper sticker that says “Drive Like You Care.” Like the person in the next car is your daughter, your father, your friend. They might be. I know someone who honked at and flipped off a confused old lady who had cut him off – and then found out that it was his mother. He has never, ever lived that one down.