Traffic and Life

Every one of us has moments when we think we are the masters of our own lives. In these moments, all of us are deceived. The world around us controls us more than we could ever hope to control it. To see this, all you have to do is try and get somewhere on the road.

The road, on one hand, demonstrates mankind’s mastery over the landscape. Especially modern roads, those asphalt ribbons that stretch out to touch all the most interesting places. Modern roads make great distances a thing to scoff at, and they make the word seem more manageable.

While the road itself demonstrates humanity’s control over the world, it also shows how each one of us, as an individual, is constantly subject to forces beyond their control. Humankind controls the world, but individual humans are still controlled by it.

Nothing shows this more than traffic. The road is there before you, stretching into the distance, beckoning with calls of freedom and adventure. And the person in front of you insists on driving slow.

Car Crash

“Speed up, already!”

Everyone has been stuck behind someone else. It is one of the most common human experiences. We are all subject to the spontaneous order of things. Sometimes you are all alone on the road, but this never lasts for long.

When you are at the front of a caravan of cars it might feel liberating, but it’s not. There is pressure to maintain speed. When you are at the front, there is always the fear that you are going to slow and someone will pass you.

And when you are behind someone they are always going to slow. Of course, you can pass the slowpoke, but this is a risky proposition. Passing the car in front of you might be the last thing you ever attempt. At the very least, the person in the other car might think you are an impatient jerk.

Cars passing tractors

What is the world coming to, when cars can pass tractors?

Anyone with experience knows trying to get ahead in traffic is a pointless endeavor anyway. After enduring the stress of the passing maneuver, you think it will be open road, I promise you will come upon another vehicle going slower than you would like. Then you’ll have to go through the whole ordeal again.

It is better to be happy with your place. Or, if not happy, then at least content. This would be ideal. But sometimes, for whatever reason, staying where you are becomes unacceptable. It might be risky, or dangerous, or uncouth, but sometimes you just have to shake things up a bit.

So you pass the car in front of you, and once again the open road stretches before you. Nary an obstacle in sight! You did something! You have control!

And then a cop pulls you over for speeding. In order to create an illusion of control, you set yourself up for tragedy.

Traffic Cop

“Now, don’t do it again.”

Some people will pay any price for their own preferred illusions. The truth is we are all just trying to get somewhere. And all of us will spend most of our time stuck behind someone else.

So pass when you can, and endure what you must. Theoretically a road can take you anywhere, but you’re gonna have to deal with traffic.

Old Traffic Jam

All of these people are still waiting.