My eldest daughter Christi commutes most days up a congested interstate from her home in suburban northern Kentucky into Cincinnati. The commute can take from 30-45 minutes on a good day; longer when there is some traffic snarlup. Most persons who commute learn to be somewhat Stoic about the trials of high speed city driving, especially when the driving drops to a snail’s pace at inopportune times. Nonetheless, it it also a source of great aggravation; which I suspects adds to the costs of both healthcare and lost productivity.
But I turned on my Facebook this morning to read this message on her wall: This morning on the way to work, an accident on the interstate involving a truck filled with tissues – tissues blowing all over the highway as traffic crept slowly forward – surreal…makes it hard to be mad about the traffic jam.
I am trying hard to imagine what this looked like? Why would something as gentle and soft as tissues stop big bad vehicles from driving forward? Or did this creat a “white out condition” with tissue paper? A daily tabloid would have posted a front page photo with the banner head line KLEENEX CRASH !!!!!
Part of the reason things like traffic jams drive us crazy or make us angry is because they explode the myth of control with which so many of us want to live. One of my most famous posts on this blogsite, “Invictus Revisited” quotes those famous words, “I am the Master of My Fate, the Captain of My Soul.” (By the way, search engines bring people to that post almost daily who are looking for the words of that motivation post. I hope they read also that I consider it good motivation, but bad theology.) We deeply desire to have everything in our lives wired for our personal preference and find inconvenience a great … well, inconvenience. And to quote a friend speaking of someone we both know, “They don’t do inconvenience.”
It is also a reflection of the innate perfectionism that drives too many of us into an early grave and our colleagues to distraction. We want control of our environment because we want to be sure everything works perfectly for us.
Yet the great inventive geniuses of the world – men like Thomas Edison and Bill Gates – will attest to the importance of failure to actually help us become better. In Christianity we teach that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. When we give up the myth of control, we find the peace (and success) that comes from what God’s perfect love provides instead of what our imperfect humanity can never achieve.
Most of us, however, need a few traffic jams and crashes and times of utter impotence to come back to the real world where things are not perfect, where we cannot control everything — and yet we can find happiness and joy in the ordinary.