[As this was an anecdotal journal entry written in the hopes that it would see the light of day as a public post on some blog, I am posting it on THIS blog!]
There was a miracle of perspective today. Something that expressed to me the power and beauty of the human attitude.
I was diving home from the university after a particularly tough Arabic language exam. My job has odd hours, I was on the road for different reasons, but while I didn’t share the current traffic’s 9-5 fluorescent purgatory, I was certainly partaking in their rush hour.
It was the first cold snap of the season, and the collective limbs of my city were recoiling in horror at the onset of pitch black afternoons, sickness, and paroxysms of holiday advertisement. Like a drunk inchworm, cars lurched too-quickly to meet the bumper lights of the drivers in front of them in a desperate ploy to force the clotting traffic to flow.
I tired my best to keep a slow, steady pace, absorbing the break light shockwaves. By the time I had cruised up to the impatient car in front of me, traffic moved up ahead and he darted forward another 10 meters only to slam on the breaks again, allowing me to slowly drift forward like he wasn’t even there.
The lead-grey sky hung above me like an obscene wall, blocking out the already-dimming afternoon sun. The streets were exposed bone, streaked white from cold. Looking around, I witnessed everyone jerking forward in their isolated bubbles of dry heater air and sour, lonely faces. No one wanted to be here, worse, no one was really here at all. Their bodies were here, but as a mass of tension and automatism. Their minds were there, but taken for a ride on their own inner roller coasters of to-do lists and remembered arguments.
I felt myself sinking into the psychic miasma. The background noise of despair at such a shitty situation. Everyone trying to escape back into themselves, recoiling into their shells. Myself included. But what could be done?
Wistfully, I thought back to a similar workday commute I had in early June. It was the first day of true summer weather, and I was reveling in it. Clear skies and long shadows, Sun and Moon celestial bookends of the horizon. Savoring the air as it rushed past my open window. Hmm…
If so much pleasure can come from an open car window in summer, why not in winter? If anything, I enjoy winter air more anyway! Cleaner. More bracing. Was I on to something? No this is stupid, don’t open your window, you’ll be home soon anyway…
I brushed the automatic button, icy fingers of wind began sliding in through a crack in the window.
This is dumb!
As the window descended, a torrent of blizzard air whipped through the interior of my car, numbing my face and fingers. I fumbled for my hat and gloves. I tried zipping up my coat, the zipper snapped off in my hand, I tossed it into the back seat with bravado. Ok, fine… It felt like I was physically fighting something, a force within me telling me to settle back down into the depressing hypnosis. The wind picked up, I started getting looks. For a brief moment I felt vulnerable. I felt like the idiot with his car window down in winter… I felt like I was holding something close to me, that I shouldn’t be.
I opened the sunroof.
Instantly it became different. Something subtle broke open inside me, the force I was fighting melted away, breaking back up into raw energy, empowering me. A Jane’s Addiction song was playing, I cranked it. I put on my sunglasses under my toque. My arm hung limply out the open window, gently clinging to the dusty metal exterior. My smile beamed. I began to bob my head to the music. The looks of dismay and vague consternation became that of enthusiasm and delight. It was rush hour in winter, the sun was setting at 4:30and this guy doesn’t care! Does that mean I don’t have to care!?
The rest of the ride was dreamlike, I turned off into a suburban side road and cruised slowly. The icy wind smashing into my face and I was loving every minute of it. It became summer inside of me. Not the weather or the sunlight, but the soul of summer. I felt my summer soul expand to meet the gaze of all those around me. I felt invigorated. I had transmuted a dull, hypnotizing funeral procession through rush hour suburbia into something beautiful.
Choose your happiness people. If you never let go of the dice you’ll never see what number comes up.