The Traffic Analogy
Updated: Apr 2, 2020
After a spooky weekend, it’s a little difficult to get into the swing of things come Monday (especially when Halloween is a week away!). My past few days included my RPG night--followed by a Rocky Horror Bowl, The Circleville Pumpkin Show, my high school reunion *the audience gasps*, and a ridiculous amount of cleaning/reorganizing and horror film binging (while eating an obscenely large pile of pumpkin spice cookies).
Basically, I am trying to squeeze every last drop of Halloween from my October washcloth. I still have many scary movies to view, a few crafts to get through, and a deep sadness to recover from after realizing I won’t be able to make it to any haunted forests/attractions this year due to scheduling conflicts. So I’m currently researching and crafting an itinerary for my own personal ghost tour, because, why the hell wouldn’t I be? And it’s going well. Thanks for asking.
While cleaning my room over the weekend, I listened to a few podcasts. One is "The Horror! (Old Time Radio)", which I have just started. It’s essentially recordings of old scary radio shows and it’s wonderful. Check it out if you’re interested. The other is a favorite that I’ve previously mentioned, "Welcome to Night Vale". Although I’ve been listening for close to two years now, it’s taking me a really long time to get caught up. It’s hard for me to listen to podcasts, because I am not an auditory learner, so I need to be able to fully concentrate on what they’re saying--which usually involves me being sedentary or doing little to no activity.
This weekend, I listened to Welcome to Night Vale, episode 46: Parade Day. The following quote stuck with me (as they often do--the show is so deep and existential at times). This is not a plot spoiler by any means, but a nice little lesson that I wanted to reflect on with all of you (also, if anyone can read Morse Code, have at it):
Now, let’s have a look at traffic.
There are roads. Upon those roads are cars. Some moving, in straight or gently-curved lines. Some idling, in long, narrow crowds. And inside those cars are people. People who are moving, or idling, with their cars. One with their vehicles, sitting quietly, peacefully in plush chairs, hands resting outward on a circle that dictates direction. From the side, and seen without the car, they would look almost fetal. So vulnerable, these people, nestled in their protective outer shells.
Are we living a life that is safe from harm?
Of course not. We never are. But that’s not the right question. The question is are we living a life that is worth the harm?
[Morse code in background: - - . - - - - - - - . - . . - - . . - - - - . - . - . . - - . - . - - - - - - .]
We are all driving toward something. We are all driving away from something else. It is…the simplicity of physics. The simplicity of free will.
Expect delays as you near the parade day exit, but do not change route.
[Morse code in background: . . . … - . - . - - - - . - - … - . - . . - . . -]
Stay your course.
This has been traffic."
I froze suddenly while trying to hang up sweaters although I know technically you shouldn’t hang sweaters because it will stretch out their shoulders, and ran to the bed to hit the pause button. I took a deep breath. Whoa. And shook my head. And took another deep breath.
Cecil’s traffic report spoke to me in a few ways, and is still nudging at me days later. We are all vulnerable, and for someone as neurotic as I tend to be, I am extremely aware of that fact at all times. “Are we living a life that is safe from harm?” I try to. I am often too scared, whether it be something physical or taking a big chance. I’ve never been a risk-taker.
“Of course not. We never are. But that’s not the right questions. The question is are we living a life that is worth the harm?”
I felt like someone had pushed my chest, knocking me backwards into the sweaters I should have been folding instead of hanging. I may think that I am being safe, but am I really? Is anyone ever really safe? By not living and experiencing things, was I really protecting myself or actually hurting myself? Am I living a life that is worth the harm? Am I fulfilled by taking chances that could have consequences? It’s something I must push myself to do every day.
The journey to reaching our goals might be slow like rush hour traffic. It may be frustrating or not make any sense (Hmm, there isn’t an accident..no construction...SO WHY ARE WE STOPPED?!) but eventually we will move and get to where we need to be. Although there may be delays and things outside of our control, we shouldn’t change our route. We’ll get there eventually.
I hope everyone goes through the rest of their week on the path they wish to take. Even if Google Maps suggests an easier route, or if you get tired of waiting through endless radio commercials, I encourage you to stay on your path. Live a life that’s worth the mistakes and risks you may experience along the way.
Because just speculating isn’t living. Thinking about living isn’t actually living. It requires going somewhere, even if it’s slow and difficult.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll see you when we get off the exit.