The Jam

Stuck-in-a-RutI’m in a rut. I know it. The trick is figuring how to pull myself OUT of said rut.

I’ve been living life day to day. Not really planning ahead, not really looking behind. Just taking each day as it comes. Not in a carpe diem kind of way either. It’s been more like plodding along in a very long, slow-moving traffic jam on a highway with no exits for many miles. Surrounded by hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people just like me.

Daydreaming about possibilities, all kinds of possibilities, yet still inching along. Moving forward, but not really going anywhere. Content in my comfortable, climate-controlled vehicle. Shaking my head sadly as other cars break down, inch their way to the shoulder, wondering, but not really caring, whether each car and its occupants will languish or find some other way to get where they are going.

I’ve got my phone along. I can stay in touch with folks. Or not.

I eat what I want, when I want. Not really caring about nutritional values. Not nourishing my body, just fueling my hunger. Satisfying an immediate need. Or is it just a want?

I check the map every now and then, looking for exits, planning my escape. Excitement builds as I near a potential egress, blossoming as I consider the myriad possibilities. Who knows where that route could take me? The things I will see. Oh, the things I will do!

Then I look around. I’m surrounded by other vehicles, many different makes and models. Some are shiny and new, others are old. A few are really damn decrepit, and will likely be struggling to the shoulder soon. Many vehicles are just like mine. Not new and not old. Able to move forward. Invisible in their normalcy. The only thing that makes each of those cars stand out is their driver.

My gaze shifts from the rear-view mirror to the side view. I plot my escape. Consider the different methods I can employ to squeeze through the traffic. Surely I could do it if I tried. It may not be easy, but it would certainly be possible.

I start to inch to the right as I continue to creep forward. Forward, over, forward, over.

I catch a glimpse of the driver of the car squeezing past on my right. “Stay where you are. This is my fucking lane. Move along,” is what that look says.

Maybe I’ll see that person again, maybe not. Compatriots on the highway quickly become strangers once one changes their path.

I ease back to the left, look ahead once again. Settle back into my comfortable forward trajectory. I steal peeks at the side view mirror every now and then, watching with ambivalence as that once-hopeful exit slowly recedes into my past.

I see a “No U-turn” sign. Reconsider for the briefest-of-brief moment.

“Eh, probably nothing exciting back there anyway,” I say aloud to myself, trying to sound convincing.

My gaze drifts to the the rear-view mirror once again. I shift in my seat, leaning to the right for a better angle. There’s a middle-aged stranger staring back at me. One perched on the brink of AARP eligibility.

I quickly avert my eyes, pretend not to have seen. Re-position myself in my seat, settling back into that comfortable position that’ll allow me to keep plodding right along. Daydreaming always. Thinking about the next exit. THAT is where I’ll make my escape. That is where I’ll make my change. Unless the car breaks down, runs out of gas, or, worse yet, fails completely. Unlikely given its age and sorta regular maintenance.

An irregular, soft rumble to my left followed by a loud snort draws my attention. My passenger, asleep beside me, almost woke himself again. I could poke him, shake him, maybe just cough. Somehow wake him up and say, “Where do you want to go?” Demand that he give me an answer. An idea. Even a hint of a suggestion.

I let him sleep. I know what his answer will be.

“I want to go wherever you are going,” he’d say. Or something to that effect. And that’s not a bad thing.

7 Replies to “The Jam”

  1. Sounds like the story of my life… I am still waiting for the right exit… but currently stuck in a jam in Germany, and not knowing how to get out of here… well, it could be worse than being stuck in the Black Forest though 😉

  2. That traffic jam analogy really sounds grim. My commute in L.A. used to be about 1 1/2 hours if I was on the road during rush hour.

    So, where are you headed while in the traffic jam?

  3. The very best things I have done in my life, the most rewarding, the things I am most proud of, were done volunteering.

    The nice thing is that they weren’t exits. They were part of the drive, scenic by-ways. Once I offered to get involved, I was in for the duration and just had to adjust the driving to make it all work.

    I can’t imagine my life without the digressions.

    1. David, I’d love to know what sort of volunteering you did. I do a bit myself for Brittany (dog) rescue, but it’s mostly short, sporadic chunks of time. I sometimes drive segments of transport chains when dogs need moving. I also do what’s called a “home visit,” which means meeting in the homes of potential adopters to make sure they are who they say they are, have a proper environment, current animals are well-cared-for, etc.

      Maybe I should look for something else around here that would help people. 🙂

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