Loving the Traffic

Since I moved to Johannesburg, for the longest time, I did criticize and complain about the traffic. It’s a silly phenomenon, resulting from poor design and lack of a trustworthy public transport system. Jo’burg drivers can be inconsiderate, foolish, and in too much of a hurry.

And, in the ten odd years that I have lived in this city, nothing much has changed. In fact, the traffic has grown worse. And I think some of the drivers have grown more foolish and more inconsiderate.

So, if we can’t change something, what do we do? Complain some more! Right? At least that gives us the chance to vent a little bit. And we have something in common with our fellows and peers. We have a topic of conversation that can last for hours. And it never goes out of style. We can complain to our peers, listening to their own woes every single work day, and some times on the weekends, too. No lulls, no solutions, it’s just part of life. Awesome.

A friend once wrote a novel in the traffic. Not in one sitting, of course. Over a few months, writing a little bit in daily standstill traffic, she completed a book. Now that’s being productive.

I have a voice recorder on both my phone and my media player that I’ve used to record story and script ideas on many an occasion. I also keep a fair amount of audio books on my memory stick and media player. There’s been times I longed for more traffic just so that I could listen to one more chapter.

It’s interesting how we can change our attitude toward a situation by changing our perspectives. Where I was once upset with traffic, I found a reason to enjoy it.

I’ve said in other posts and articles that you shouldn’t complain, you should find a solution. Sometimes that solution doesn’t involve changing the situation. It does involve changing what we do with the situation. I tend to stay out off the road during peak hours but I still occasionally find myself in traffic jams. And there’s thousands of people who don’t have that luxury; they are in the jams every morning and evening.

My take is if you’re going to spend two to four hours of your day on the road, make it pleasant or at least make it productive. Listening to uplifting music, audio books, and even comedy can ensure you’re still in a relatively good mood by the time you park your car. You may even make use the time to brainstorm, solve problems, create stories, some open eye meditation or virtually anything else.

I’ve found it possible to turn traffic from something hateful into something more enjoyable by shifting my perspective around it and what that time in traffic means to me. What will work for you may be specific to you. And, of course, vary your in-car activities from week to week. Audio books are great in this regard.

This may not be a long term solution for people who are spending five days a week, twice a day in hectic traffic. The first step is to shift the perspective, finding ways to change your situation to work for you. Decide what you want in the long term and use your current traffic time, in whatever way you can, to build toward that goal. I would expect that eventually you would want to be able to command your own time, being able to work from your home or being able to choose when you hit the roads.

And I’d like you to apply this mentality to other aspects in your life that you may feel are a frustration or a waste of time. Find a way to make any activity and situation jovial or productive or both. In truth, there is no wasted time. You can always find a way to be wise with it. Open up to the possibilities available to you.