We can’t all be Number One

During Holy Week, I had the rare privilege of spending ten hours all by myself. In the cab of a truck.

Our daughter Sharon needed to move surplus furniture, books, china, and quilting supplies to her new home, ten hours away, so that she could put an uncluttered home for sale. Dad got called on.

Driving long distances alone tires some people. Not me. Heavy traffic tires me. Blood pressure goes up; patience goes down.

But the open road induces a kind of harmony. Almost like meditation – although not the kind that involves sitting cross-legged in a quiet room, humming mantras and shutting out the world. Not a safe way to drive…

Rather, I cease being the driver, a different entity from the machine. And the road. Among the mountains.

After a while, vehicle, road, mountains, and I become a unity. I feel the asphalt through my bare tires. The V8 throbs like my heart. The steering wheel is an extension of my hands, which are an extension of my eyes…

It’s almost like music – many notes making a single chord.

During part of that ten hours, my freed mind mused on competitiveness.

In my youth, I was highly competitive. I hated losing. I felt as if I, personally, had let the side down. I had failed to perform at my best. I wanted my team to win. I needed to earn higher grades than my friend John.

I don’t recall how that changed. But I remember when I realized it had changed. At a staff retreat, I was playing ping pong with an associate. He had recently had multiple-bypass heart surgery. He worked himself into a lather trying to beat me.

And I remember thinking, “Winning isn’t that important.”

Now I no longer feel a need to pass the car ahead, just because it’s ahead.

In fact, if they’re going my direction, at about my speed, I’ll gladly let other drivers do the driving for me. I let them find the icy patches, the deceptive bends, the shattering potholes.

There’s no humiliation in being second. Or even third. It’s a comfortable position. On the highway, or in life. You can be respected and valued. But you don’t have to bear all the responsibility.

We don’t all have to be Number One.

In Canadian politics, Paul Martin made a great Number Two, but failed as prime minister.

Chris Chataway never made it to the top as a runner. But he paced Roger Bannister to the world’s first four-minute mile.

I wonder, sometimes, how Simon Peter felt when he suddenly found himself promoted to leader of the small disorganized band of Jesus’ disciples.

Of course – to mix metaphors a little – a ship needs a captain. Any ship navigated entirely by consensus will inevitably run aground on the nearest rock. But every captain needs a good first mate.

Ten hours alone in a truck cab reminded me that I don’t always have to head the pack. Following someone I trust has its own merits.








Jim Taylor is an Okanagan Centre author of 17 books and several thousand magazine and newspaper articles. He welcomes comments; rewrite@shaw.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna’s last video store, Leo’s Video, to remain open despite failed sale

Kelowna’s last video rental store will remain open and under its namesake’s ownership

Two-vehicle collision slows traffic on Highway 97

Harvey is down to two lanes heading east past Dilworth is closed while crews clean up

Construction starts for new middle school in Lake Country

H.S. Grenda Middle School is scheduled to open in Sept. of 2021

Kelowna RCMP arrest three after string of break-ins from car dealerships

Police arrested the final suspect on Jan. 15 and recovered a Jeep worth around $84,000

Province could soon allow e-scooters on Kelowna streets

Okanagan e-scooter companies are currently limited to certain areas in the city

Older Canadians highlighted in Kelowna film project to fight ageism

The project is part of a campaign to combat ageism

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Princeton – a Prince Town in waiting?

The Town of Princeton has been waiting 160 years for a Royal… Continue reading

Group builds shelters for Vernon’s stray cats

Twenty insulated cat shelters were constructed by volunteers and delivered around town

UBCO partners with Boeing to test new anti-ice coating technology

The coating could one day be applied to all airplanes to prevent ice buildup

Revelstoke already double last year’s snowfall

The city is just below halfway to the snowiest winter on record

True Stories: Okanagan memoir-writers, reading

Reading with local North Okanagan writers Art Dalton, Patti Shales Lefkos, Raven Dahl, Janelle Hardy

COLUMN: Choosing a face to show the world

It will not be easy to select the face to display on Canada’s new $5 bill

Most Read