Musical Roads

Have you ever been on a long drive and experienced the jarring sensation of driving over a rumble strip? These grooves in the asphalt alert drivers who are getting too close to the edges of their lanes. Most of the time, this monotone noise rattles your ear in a way that isn’t so pleasant. When you correct the drift and get back on track, the loud, obnoxious, buzzing noise goes away. 

There are a few places in the world, however, where the grooves actually create melodies and are meant to be driven upon. On the road between Albuquerque and Tijeras, New Mexico, for example, there is a desolate stretch of Route 66 where accidents were plentiful. The department of transportation designed a musical road to help slow down drivers’ hot-rod antics. You can now drive on this stretch and hear the song “America the Beautiful,” but only if you strictly obey the speed limit of 45 miles per hour. Going a few miles over or under the posted speed limit means you miss out on the melody. 

In managing our own behavior, we often attempt to zoom ahead toward our goals, pausing only when the rumble strips on our path alert us that we are getting off course. By the time we hear the rumblings, we may be discouraged, having already slipped back into old behaviors. 

But what if we think about the path of change like the musical roads, where the grooves are meant to be driven on? What if we pay attention to the melody that shows we are on the right path and traveling at the right speed? If we attend to the things that are working and experiences that are too good to give up, it might help keep us moving in a steady and intentional way. 

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.