Embrace the Traffic Jam

This might be the most zen thing I’ve ever written. It follows a combination of being stuck in traffic and watching Ong Bak 3. That’s right there’s a third Ong Bak (and it’s good).

While sitting in my car not far from where I started I realised it’d taken 30 minutes to travel what usually took two. That’s a huge waste of my time, I thought. I began to imagine all of the things I could have been doing, were I not stuck in this car.

By the way people were revving, frowning or erratically embarking on a clumsy three point turn, I could tell the other drivers were also getting irate with the current situation. It was undoubtedly frustrating. What was causing this? It had better be worth it, I thought.

The rest of the journey was spent in continued frustration, eager to escape this slow paced hell and do something constructive.

Finally, I was free and home. Time to get something meanwhile done. In goes Ong Bak 3.

Unlike the previous two films which featured virtually non-stop fight scenes, this film was a lot more contemplative and riddled with Buddhist philosophy, something that seemingly upset critics. It got in the way of the action, they complained, but I thought it was an enhancement.

It reminded me of a Buddhist teaching that man/woman cannot be happy until they accept the reality of their existence. Good advice, certainly. It made me thing about our general reaction to things like traffic jams, train delays, waiting in line and so on. It’s been said many times, but getting frustrated and angry doesn’t make it any quicker. The hold up doesn’t magically vanish through the sheer power of rage.

Don’t get me wrong. Being angry is good and healthy – when it’s about something important, because something can be done then. But angry because a traffic jam’s wasting your time?

I realised I’d wasted my own time. The traffic jam wasn’t a problem, it was, if anything, something to relish. It was giving me time. How often can you legitimately just sit and do nothing. Nothing at all. It’s like that episode of the Twilight Zone, where the man wakes up to a world where everyone else has disappeared and he finally has time to read all his books.

Obviously reading wasn’t an option. There were plenty of others though, like thinking about the next few scenes for a WIP, or finally listening to an album I’ve wanted to hear from a long time.

I could have gained all kinds of things from that standstill if I’d approached it differently. Next time, I’ll remember to simply embrace the traffic jam. Or I’ll just walk.