Traffic. A terrifying word that has begun to take over my day to day life in New Orleans where any slight wrong doing is cause for laying on the horn and driving like you are in the Grand Theft Auto video game is completely normal. Getting from point A to point B is not a simple task, but a challenging test of patience and will that eats up the hours of your day like pacman and sucks your gas tank like soda through a straw. New Orleans highways are clogged vessels that criss cross in confusing manners, overstuffed with people like a Moe's Burrito.
Today was particularly horrific. I took the interstate across the Westbank to Faith Church this morning, took it back to First Church around lunchtime, and then attempted to get home around 5:30. I probably spent the majority of my day stuck in traffic. When I got home I was shaking with frustration. But as I settled down into the evening hours, I started to put my life in perspective.
We spend our lives trying to "do what is expected of us." We bounce from point A to point B to point C and so forth. If we are privileged and lucky enough to chase it, the American Dream is ours : we go to school, we get a job, we get married, we raise a family, we retire. Sometime the points are rearranged, sometimes they are skipped, and sometimes the unexpected happens, and we don't reach them at all. We become spokes in society's wheel that churn in circles to survive. We get so caught up in reaching each stage on time that we become overly frustrated when something diverts us from our path and causes our progress to slow. Today, after spending multiple hours stuck on the road, I realized that perhaps Life is in the traffic. It is in those in-between moments where you find yourself happiest and angriest, where the little things can make the biggest difference. Whatever the emotion, it is here you are most yourself, most alive. In the car, I listened to all my favorite songs in a row, belting them out so loud I am sure the entire state of Louisiana was covering their ears in extreme pain. I started to mull over everything I had experienced, seen, and lived in New Orleans so for the first time since I have been here, and tears strained my eyelids while I felt a powerful sensation deep in my chest. I discovered that these long, "miserable" car rides to work were the places where my mind got the most exercise, where I got a chance to be with just myself, God,my fears, and my dreams.
Tomorrow, I will attempt to wake up early, get dressed, grab a to go breakfast, head out the door, get in my car and start the long drive to work. I will most likely be met with a horrific stand still on I-10 that will last all the way across the Westbank bridge and it will probably take me close to an hour go only a few miles. I will be surrounded by other frustrated cranky people who are worried about being late for work and other engagements. I am not saying I won't get frustrated ever again while spending half my days on the crowded, congested highways of New Orleans. However, I hope to progressively learn to use this time to appreciate the "in betweens" of life where love seeps in and things get messy, unpredictable, awful, and wonderful. The roadways that lead us to each success and failure keep us connected to the roots of living. Our lives are a gift from God. Once we try to reduce them to mere rungs on ladder, we lose that gift.
Life is in the traffic.
And that is why my novel in progress (tentatively titled Newton's Laws for Living) involves an epic road trip. Maybe I'll post an excerpt if people are lucky ;)