Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Theme Thursday: Traffic

Exhaust pokes its finger into my mouth, like a dentist, smearing its metallic pate across taste buds deadened by overly hot coffee. Inch by inch, the caravan of steel and plastic winds its red light parade through green grass hills toward the haze of the city.

Everyone trying to get somewhere.

Tenuously, one hand digs into a shiny black attache searching for elusive notes among multi-colored charts and spreadsheets of numbers that read like hieroglyphics. Furrows form in the smooth grey steering wheel, as he grips for control, his attention drifting here and there. Meetings. Deadlines. Evaluations. Budgets. Promotions. Coffee sloshes from the cup between his legs unleashing a primal scream from deep within, sending an avalanche of reports into the floor board. His castles of sand all wash away as his sanity drips down his cheeks in tears.

Mommy, what's wrong with that man?

Can you please just sit down in your seat, hisses through teeth streaked pink with lipstick she applies in the rear view mirror. Her internal Outlook calendar scrolls across her mind...daycare, mom's meeting, doctors appointment, soccer practice, piano lessons, dinner party, Desperate Housewives, bed. A cascading domino of brake lights drags a lash of pink up her cheek, distorting her face into a gruesome smile. Mommy, you look like the Joker, echoes the way that she feels, as she looks for an exit ramp.

Sometimes, life can feel like traffic. Trying to get from one thing to the next, and everyone getting in your way, as they try to get from one thing to the next. There always seems to be one more thing to do. We make lists and check them off, marking progress toward the moment we can lay our heads on the pillow and lay awake, staring at the ceiling thinking about the next thing.

There has got to be a better way.

Finding a space in the parking garage, I pop the top from a red felt tip pen, scrawling Make room to truly live with the people you love, they will remember that more than the traffic across the top of my to-do list. Then add an exclamation point.

55 comments:

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Friends don't let friends drive with a cup of hot coffee between their legs. Great post. I feel the frustration. -J

...mmm... said...

Very true indeed. we musn't let the tyranny of the urgent continually push aside the people we love.

I like how you talk about working towards getting that moment to lie down adn then look at the ceiling still awake with the mental to do lists, etc.

Well written piece, as always, Brian.

Daniel said...

I followed your advice last week. It was necessary and important to make that time, for both of us.

otin said...

The mental traffic is the worst! At least when you are stuck in a Jam on an interstate, you know that you will get home. The mental traffic may never end.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

That's why they call it the rat race. Or perhaps even more like a hamster running in circles on his toy wheel in his little cage. Or, to continue the animal analogies, like lemmings rushing headlong to the edge of a cliff. It is such a shame that so many are obliged to live this way in order to make their way in a capitalist society. It really can be hard to carve out the amount of time we and our families deserve.

Beautifully designed piece.

rxBambi said...

Exhaust pokes its finger into my mouth, like a dentist, smearing its metallic pate across taste buds deadened by overly hot coffee.

I love this visual. I could almost taste it. It does not go well with my Mondavi chardonnay. So thanks for that.

Seriously tho, I love the imagery you have in this piece.

California Girl said...

I just wrote mine and scheduled it to post @ 12:01AM altho' I get antsy when I can't look at it right away, especially if it needs tweaking.

Thought about the subject and what I'd say as I could write VOLUMES on traffic, my reaction to traffic, road rage, etc. Instead, I felt a bit of nostalgia.

I do look at other people in amazement when they talk endlessly on their cells while weaving about. I've seen people shaving on the fwys in CA. Really.

Like that lipstick image.

TechnoBabe said...

After all the intense drive and emotion, you thankfully end this post with a little sanity in the note scrawling. Yeah, remember what and who are really important. Nicely written.

MW said...

I love your last comment..."make room for those you truly love."

I could identify with the first part of your post, and then when I read your last comment, I smiled. Yes, that is the kind of life I want to lead.

Thanks for sharing.

Leah said...

Hear, hear! My family, although busy, has consciously opted out of the frantic multi-tasking and rush of modern life. We just won't do it. It works to just say no in this case.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Ah, right... THAT'S why I'm on vacation. Thanks for the reminder.
Great post.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

I'm really glad that we don't live in a big city. I'm all nervous about the traffic situation just reading about it.
Thanks for the reminder to make room for those we truly love. Nothing else matters, huh?
Great post!

AngelMay said...

I agree with Green-Eyed Momster. Hate big cities. Hate traffic. But thinking I should have said something in my own post about all the crazy things I've seen people do while driving. You would NOT believe some of them.

Kathleen said...

Brilliantly told essay on an everyday phenomenon!

Kudos, Brian! And I love your red felt tip pen note.

Many moons ago, I decided that while driving, I could truly set my own pace. Yep, I'm the short lady you can barely see over the steering wheel slowing down everyone else who's in a rush. I don't mean to annoy others, I'm just really content with slow and easy.

Oh I get the occasional finger, honk, and shout, but I'm usually so zenned out, I startle only briefly, then settle back down to into my lovely perfect pace.

Plus, I take the bus a lot!

Goofball said...

I think you live in my area and you sit in the traffic jams to Brussels each day....you can desribe it too well!

Protege said...

I am always in terrible distress when I drive. I feel the overwhelming aura of absolutely stressed drivers, driven to the edge of their sanity, all around me. And they all seem to be so very late for something at all times, making their driving hazardous.
I love the way you use your words, I can always sense the situations you describe to the bone.

Alan Burnett said...

Just the kind of take on the subject I would expect from you Brian. As always, a pleasure to read.

Jasmine said...

We are such creatures of habit. Often our own worst enemy. I don't know why this theme reminds me of Rome so much but it does.

I went to Rome with friends who insisted on doing the guided tours and visiting the tourist book sites. In the end we agreed to go our separate ways through the day and meet up for the evenings.

I had a wonderful time walking to the ancient village and just sitting, watching, soaking up the atmosphere, then to another site, and sitting, reading a book or watching the people absorbing the echoes of time.

My friends spent a lot of time being herded through queues barely seeing that which they went to see...

Lorraine said...

Gosh this is brilliant, I live through your words, I feel it, you're incredible...there's gotta be a better way. Mine was totally burning out...oh well, had to stop the insanity one way or the other !

Ravyn said...

"...internal Outlook calendar scrolls across her mind..."
Love it! Great post.

Nessa said...

A very good reminder of what is important in life.

Thursday Thirteen - Useless Knowledge

Jill said...

!!!!!!!!!
Most excellent words of GREAT wisdom Brian!
Bravo!

nanny said...

Traffic sure has a way of bringing out the bad in many people!!!!
Great post Brian.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

love the way you park this post! wise advice.

happy theme thursday!

Wings said...

You would be amazed at the things I see people do while driving each morning. Crazy!

Nice piece. :)

Betsy said...

That thought should be at the top of all of our To Do lists!

Applying makeup in the rear view mirror while driving is the WORST! ha!

Gaston Studio said...

Love your analogy that life is like traffic.... 'cuz it's so true!

only a movie said...

Last 2 lines are brilliant.
I have chosen not to live that hectic life. Am so thankful for that.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Hard to remember those last two lines sometimes. Good advice.

Thanks for visiting and reading my POTD. Most fun to receive that.

VE said...

There is a better way...right below this post in the picture of your sons!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Amazing writing going on in this piece. Loved every bit of it.

Dreamhaven said...

love this post. I can almost feel the pain of that coffee. I drink mine with a straw in the car, Much safer,lol.

There are so many ways to mess up in this life, we don't need to ask for it.

Happy TT

Skip Simpson said...

Beautiful piece! Happy TT!

Meeko Fabulous said...

This is so true. So many times in life we're running around like mad trying to meet important deadlines all the while losing perspective of those thing that should truly be important in our lives.

kys said...

I ignore my kids while I'm rushing around with my internal to-do list too many times.

Put another quarter in the therapy jar.

e said...

I did the driving with coffee thing once...left me with third degree burns---the tyranny of traffic.

Great piece and I too feel your pain...

Mar said...

!!
Loved it. (Although it reminded me of my dentist's appointment early tomorrow...)
Much blog traffic here :)

staceyjwarner said...

Fantastic...there is so much more to life than traffic and I spend fair share of time in it living in LA. Great post. Great message. Great writing (as always).

much love

blueviolet said...

That's the best advice ever!

My SIL has been in the family for about 15 years now and has never once stopped to enjoy the moment she is in. I find her exhausting to be around because of it.

Kate Hanley said...

I love these reminders of yours to live in the moment and with the people you love. I haven't had a to do list in a few days and it's been Fabulous! Plus, I love the pumpkin patch picture. So adorable.

Baino said...

Good advice and that my friend is why I love the weekends. Quality time, talk and cooperation with my family and friends and the ardours of a hectic and incredibly horrible stressful week are gone - until 3pm on a Sunday afternoon when the panic of having to go to work the next day hits . . yep . . it's that bad! Have a good weekend.

Madame DeFarge said...

The joy of walking five minutes to work, even although it means living away from my husband during the week, is worth it when compared to the six hours there and back it would take me if I stayed at home. It's a very difficult compromise though.

Cheffie-Mom said...

This post is so true and near and dear to my heart. Taking the time to slow down and give our time to the people we love is so important. Thank you for this post. Blessings and hugs.

Ronda Laveen said...

I always find myself reaching for my lip gloss. How is one to drive if her lips are dry? Can't concentrate on a thing until they are soothed. Great Traffic post.

Megan said...

Great one, Brian. There definitely has got to be a better way.

Dianne said...

brilliant!
the imagery is so wonderful and true and real

thank you for your visit
the shower curtain comment really made me laugh

The Retired One said...

So true, Brian.
I remember it well before I retired. And now, I realize that no one really noticed all that I did or didn't do...many times I pressured myself WAY more than necessary to produce, perform....at the expense of myself and my family, I am sure.
I see it happening with my children too...pushing, pushing at their careers at the expense of their health and their children's childhood memories....
I think we do it out of fear more than the want of success.
I am so glad you see that now, while your children are young.

liza said...

Those darn to do lists...they jam everything up! Cheers to the ones we love!

♥ Braja said...

A job is a job is a job....

Sandra Leigh said...

"His castles of sand all wash away as his sanity drips down his cheeks in tears." Beautiful.

Pat said...

Wow - you sure have a way with words!

tony said...

Sounds Familiar!Life In The Wrong Gear!

Hilary said...

Wise advice. Particularly if we're hoping that one day the adult kidlets will be wanting to make room for us in their lives.

AmyLK said...

We certainly would be happier if we could follow the advise in the red felt tip pen!

I know I will try to slow things down this week. Thanks for the reminder to live LIFE!

JeffScape said...

Love that opening. Brilliant.

Man, I'm gonna have to catch up... traveling aimlessly isn't very conducive to reading blogs!