Wednesday, January 31, 2018

On the road again

Traffic.
Ugh.
It's the worst, right?
The American Automotive Association reported that the average American spent 17,600 minutes a year driving.  Twelve days.  That's just the average.

Years go I lived in Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in America by population and a metro area bigger than New Jersey (but smaller than Massachusetts).  On a good traffic day, the commute to and from work was 45 minutes each way.  It was rarely a good traffic day.

More than once I found myself sitting in extreme heat in an extremely long line of cars; a line so long that I turned off the engine because I knew I wasn't moving for hours.  Sadly, more than once I thought to myself that there better be something up ahead to justify my wait; something like a really big accident and not some idiot making poor choices.

One day though, I recognized what I was doing.  I was wishing something bad on a stranger because I was inconvenienced.  More than a recognition, it was a realization.

I realized that traffic was preventing me from having a good day.  And, since I couldn't change the traffic, I would have to change myself.  I had to stop thinking negatively while waiting in the car.  I had to stop being frustrated by the wait,  More so, I had to do something to make it better for myself and for my fellow drivers.

I moved my harmonica into the car along with a bottle of soap bubbles.  When traffic stopped I'd tune the radio to some station playing music with space in between the notes and I'd fill them with music.  Or, if nothing was playing that I liked, I'd make my own music badly.  If the weather was good or the mood took me I'd open the sun roof and start blowing bubbles up and out.

Looking out the windows I'd see my fellow drivers looking in.  They'd be smiling or laughing or be trying to figure out what sort of lunatic was sharing the road with them.  I didn't mind the wait anymore either.  Sitting in the car was an opportunity to make today a good day.

Years later I added a red nose to my traffic kit.  I could now bring joy even when driving at normal speed.  Every stop light or stop sign I had the chance to draw out a smile or two.

Harmonicas, bubbles, and red noses aren't for everyone (but they could be for you . . have you tried?).  Anyone can find their thing though.  Your frustration may not even be traffic.

The first and second things you can do is identify your frustrations and decide that you are not going to be frustrated any longer.  Next do something about it!  The last thing thing might be trying to make whatever it is better for others.

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