Traffic… the Gift of Time

There is something about time, something so volatile, so ephemeral. Every second that passes cannot be retrieved and every moment we miss out on cannot be recovered. Perhaps this is what makes time so precious. Every single person you meet is rushing somewhere, trying to be as quick as possible in an attempt not to waste a second, and perhaps traffic is the worst enemy in this case. But have you ever thought of it as an actual blessing?

We are in a constant race against time, yet we forget that time is not against us. We rarely take the chance to stop and look around. Truth is, when someone asks me why I love traffic when it’s the first thing anyone can complain about in Lebanon, my answer is simple: I get to stop and actually see things.

The magic in places…

Not only can I see the small shops opening in the morning and the kids going to school, or people going about their daily lives as if I’m in a live movie taking place right before my eyes, or a beautiful sunset at the end of a tiring day, but I can also notice that beautiful house hidden behind tall buildings, and that I could not possibly have seen if I did not have to stop in traffic. I can notice the small library around the corner that I always tend to rush by and not glance at, simply because I did not have the time.

I cannot tell you how many small coffee shops, how many bookstores, restaurants, tailor shops, and stores I have discovered because I was not rushing by, and believe me, it is worth it (I admit it, even the things I see when I try to escape traffic by taking a small narrow street that I usually don’t take, have made me see things from a different perspective). Even small town churches you can hardly notice since they merge so well with their surroundings, manage to stand out and seem so simple and plain beautiful.

The realness of people…

As romantic as this may perhaps seem, even people seem different if you take the time to not only look, but actually see. You get a glimpse of how their life is at this very moment of the day, how they might be struggling and worried, or how a phone call is making them smile. Sometimes, if you smile at them they might even smile back, because you’re both in traffic but you don’t have to hate it. And we’ve all done it: we’ve all heard a song we like from someone else’s car while stuck in traffic and actually enjoyed it while it lasted. Not so bad huh?

If you are a “Friends” fan like me, you would know that when Ross was talking about the long commute he would have to face by moving to a new place, one thing he said was “I’ve been given the gift of time”. Sarcastic, of course, but come to think of it, traffic can be seen as just that. We will always be in a hurry and we will always want to rush to our destination, but this may be our chance to sit back, take a deep breath, enjoy the world just as it is, and let go of whatever is stressing us out. Because at this very moment, the only thing we can really do is not kill time, but take advantage of it.