Traffic

It occurred to me today that driving could easily be the ultimate metaphor for life.

You get on the road in the morning. You do not know whom you will meet. No one is going to tell you what time they will be getting on the road but you drive out and they are all there: salon cars, trucks, motorcycles, all of them, driving along with destinations in mind. But it all works because we are all going by the same rule book. Usually.

The one sure way to be a successful driver is to be a defensive driver. Defensive driving means that while driving, you make many or all of the compromises that need to be made all the while staying within the rules of driving. Defensive driving means that you anticipate that the other person is going to make that stupid move, or some car is going to take a daredevil turn which will affect you. So you drive with that mindset, thinking that everyone apart from you is a bit mad on the road. So that even though you are purposeful about what you are doing, you avoid everyone’s drama and get there in one piece. Of course, it does not work out that way all the time but that is why those are called accidents; no one planned for them. Duh.

Today was crazy. Usually, I can predict just how unpredictable the roads are going to be. And I make careful decisions about my journey to keep me sane; decisions like when to leave home. Today, all my predictions were very wrong. There were too many cars where there were meant to be none. Lanes which were supposed to move did not move. So I just gave up and went with it. The good thing was that I left in plenty of good time so I did not have to add lateness to my list of frustrations.

Considering that I had plenty of time to think in the car while waiting in traffic, I began to think of the whole experience of driving as a metaphor for life and for relationships. Like life, we get on and off all the time. While on the road, we need to respect the other person and their car. Keeping the rules saves you and the other person. And then when there is a distraction, the best way is to let it slide by taking the decision to avoid an accident. You compromise so that you don’t have a situation where two people are insisting on their right to be right. You do this so that it doesn’t result in an accident. And because you compromise, you look weaker. The other person gets ahead, but you are safe, and the other person is also safe.

A lot of times, we usually have the way we want things to go in our lives all mapped out. This career by the cool age of 30, marriage to top it all off like a trophy, a car, travel and the list goes on and on. But at 30, you are struggling to make it in grad school. You career has not even kicked off. Your marriage plans are on hold, and they tell you with sage looks that 40 is the new 25.

But keep driving. There is a destination and you will only get there if you keep at it. To all my friends of this perilous generation, I say, “Well done!” And don’t give up.

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