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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Emrys

Heavy Traffic

We all know what it feels like to drive in heavy traffic. It’s not much fun– but even in the midst of so much noise and confusion, everybody seems to agree on the rules. They obey traffic signals. They observe warning signs. Drivers find their destinations, at their own pace, and the system appears orderly. It seems predictable– but is it?

Remember when you were a beginner at this? Student drivers are taught to anticipate the unexpected. They’re encouraged not to be complacent in heavy traffic. No one should assume that the cars around them will do what they’re suppose to do– for good reason. Every driver exists in his or her own dream.

You don’t know what going on in the cars around you. You can’t see another driver reaching to retrieve something that fell under the dashboard. You can’t hear another driver’s angry phone conversation. You’ll never know the pressure they might be feeling to get somewhere in a hurry, or to accomplish ten things at once.

You can’t judge how badly the driver nearest you wants to assert control over everyone else. You don’t know how desperate they all are to be right– and to make you wrong. Like you, they have a busy life, but they see a different landscape through their windshield. They have their own emotional triggers and responses. And so their actions can’t possibly be predicted.

You’ll never get an accurate picture of another person’s complicated dream. In fact, you’re probably not able, in real time, to assess your own. On the road, going at 70 miles per hour, you need to be paying attention. You need to be aware of what’s happening in the moment, from every direction.

And here, of course, is the bigger point…

Navigating within the dream of humanity, you also need to be aware of what’s happening in the moment– not what you imagine is happening. You need to truly see the people around you. You need to recognize that they (like you) are living in their own dream. Billions of humans are on this road trip with you. Don’t assume that they’re all observing the same rules and warning signs. Any person, at any time, may do the wildly unexpected thing. You may, too. You’ve done some wild things before.

The events of your life are that unpredictable. Situations you take for granted can change forever. Carefully constructed plans can flip, turn, or crash-and-burn in a second. Even family members see a landscape that differs from your reality, and friends are never exactly how you imagine them. In fact, things are rarely what you’ve been taught to believe they are.

So, wake up. See. Hear. Awareness is the ability to see things as they are. That shouldn’t make you fearful or cynical. Awareness prepares you for all sorts of changes–  the happy ones, as well as the tragic and dramatic ones. It excites your mind and paints every landscape in vibrant colors. It makes for a much, much better road trip.

Never mind what the rest of humanity is doing. Take a sudden turn toward the infinite. Awareness makes the crankiest driver willing to ride life’s magical current with good humor, self-respect…and real compassion for the guy in the other car!


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