It was 5:15pm and I was setting out on my journey from my office to my home. The trip should normally take about 45 minutes. Today, it wound up taking 90 minutes.
Happy…I was not.
Yes, the sun was shining and the air was warm. Yes, the sunroof was open and the windows were down. But I wasn’t moving anywhere and I was really getting fed up. I absolutely hate not moving in traffic. Plus, I really had to pee, which always makes for fun.
I wanted to be anyplace but where I was – stranded on Victoria Park Avenue in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
I always listen to talk radio shows but today, the combination of the announcer’s nagging voice and the subject matter, forced me to turn off the radio – sitting in my car, in traffic and in silence.
I started thinking – although I never really seem to stop thinking.
We, as people, tend to not “live in the moment”. There is much talk about how important it is to be present – to live in the “here and now”. We hear people talk about not dwelling in the past and not to worry about the future. The thinking is that you have no control over what has happened or what is about to happen – you can only control the here and now.
It sort of makes sense to me. But here I am, sitting on Victoria Park Avenue…wanting to be anywhere but in the here and now.
Also, what does living in the moment look and feel like? How do any of us live in the present? I don’t know about you, but I find that I am on auto-pilot half the time. When I drive to and fro, while I know I should be concentrating on traffic and things going on around me, I am thinking about things I have to do at work, things I have to get done at home, who I owe phone calls to, important dates that are coming up – a bunch of stuff.
How can I erase all of that, retrieve it when I need it and fill my mind with the experiences of what is happening to me right now?
So, this is what I was thinking about only fifteen minutes after getting into my car and getting stuck in traffic.
How can I begin to think differently to allow me to be more present?
What I did next helped.
Without really giving it much thought or consideration, instead of heading down Vic Park, I turned right onto Sheppard. My view changed, my direction changed and the difference of that right turn, forced me to sit up and pay attention. It’s like I switched off the auto-pilot and took control of the wheel.
I started seeing things I hadn’t seen before. Different businesses, stores, cars. I had to put my visor down sooner because the sun was in my face. While I was still sitting in traffic, I was moving faster but also had the time to look at trees, some of which were blooming with beautiful flowers – I even looked up through my sun roof to see the whispy clouds and the brilliant blue sky above me.
I continued on a very different path home – taking different turns and different streets all the while noticing different and new things around me. I even turned back on the radio but this time, switched stations and listened to music instead of talk.
I made it home later than normal but not in the normally pissy mood I come home with after being in disgusting traffic for a very long period of time.
Making that right hand turn and venturing off on a new path home, caused me to become more present and engaged in the moment. I became very aware of what was going on around me because it was all new.
This might be an interesting way to stay focused on the present and not think so much about the past or the future.
Maybe the next time you are feeling lost, feeling like you are not living, feeling like you are aimlessly floating through time and space – take a right hand turn.