How Rush Hour Traffic in Ubud, Indonesia Helped Me Reframe Peace of Mind

One of the first valuable lessons I learned in my study of metaphysics was the practice of reframing situations and information into friendlier contexts.  As a result of applying this simple technique I discovered that the world is more pleasant than what my thoughts might be about it.  It appears that my mind can add unverified and sometimes unnecessary information to almost any situation, and sometimes, the meaning my mind comes up with is cultural and learned, and oftentimes inaccurate.

Aren’t I Supposed to get Frustrated?  Apparently Not.

For example, traffic jams are something I’ve been raised to fret about and I bite down on my teeth whenever cars grind to a halt in rush hour slowdowns and I start noticing in my body the subtle increase in frustration that is supposed to go with being stuck in traffic.  Yet, last week in Bali my traffic-jam concept was reframed when I watched the locals respond to a good, old-fashioned, bustling city, hour-long, you’re-not-going-anywhere kind of traffic jam.  What a surprise.  No one seemed to be upset in the slightest.  And furthermore, no one yelled out at the impertinence of those drivers–many of them–who mounted the sidewalks and drove a little bit further ahead of other stuck cars.  Indeed, getting a few yards ahead appeared to be an admirable accomplishment, and nudging cheekily in front of a car in an adjacent lane seemed to offend no one at all.

Road Rage

Honk, honk, honk.  “Ah, there…” I thought, “‘there is the required and expected road rage…”  But no, reframe again, the autos and scooters, my guide explained, honk to announce themselves, to alert other travelers to their presence, to contribute to safety, not to condemn someone for a driving blooper with a rude blast of an angry horn.  No, it’s all pretty much a festival of sorts, a making of lemonade, an everyday opportunity to announce, “look, I’m here, I’m friendly, I’m coming through, I’m stuck like you, isn’t it grand?”

I’m home now.  I just got out of my car.  I’m sitting at my desk.  I should be pouting because someone yelled at me for being a sloppy driver.  But I’m not mad.  I’m imagining what our city streets could be like.


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