Have you ever experienced relentless honking in a traffic jam? Ever wondered how pointless it is? It has practically no purpose in a jam or a roadblock, but people continue to honk their horns; do you ever ask why? If you do the same, think about the reason. Now, there are many silly things we do in our daily lives which have no use value, or which serve no purpose in the world. Yet we do them as they are a glimpse of our own mental condition. We express through things and we express more in a situation which is not in our hands. Helplessness is loud. As in a traffic jam, people who relentlessly keep on blowing their horns, knowing that their ‘horn-blowing’ would not magically clear off the traffic; do so to express out loud. Their horns are really their mind voices shouting their condition at the top of their capacities.
In a classic example of a metropolitan jam, the horns most heard are of the daily commuters expressing their hurried self, desperate to reach home on time. Some are running late for work, just as they are running late on catching up to life or their ambition. Some are frustrated from homes, upset from certain circumstances, caught in misfortune, trapped in the mundane of ‘existing perpetually’, hence voicing their annoyance through blowing horns in a traffic jam. It seems the only thing in their control is shouting out to the world through horns, a world which is indifferent to their misery responds with nothing. Watching people try so hard and express so hard in a helpless situation, makes us witness of the human folly time and again; human that lives like a cog in a wheel is deluded to have reached somewhere, achieved something. The traffic jam is a scenic portrayal of an unsettled mind; voices of head screaming like horns, thoughts coming from all directions like vehicles and hitting one another blatantly, ideas like roads are packed and have little room for adjustment. And so, we are often trapped in a mental traffic jam.
We humans are habituated to control everything and when we are unable to do it, we fret. Stuck in a traffic jam, we wish to escape our condition so bad that we channelize all energies to focus on the ‘uncontrollable’ and while we fail, we are agonized. Similarly, we try hard to control our own minds, so much so that we keep on fighting with every uncomfortable idea or thought which comes our way. We dismiss every attempt that makes us step out of our comfort zone or any idea which is unfamiliar or new. Hence, we are caught in a mental traffic of instant turmoil, where we are in constant match with our destiny. It is not about the things that we are in charge of, but the things which are out of our hands; how should one deal with them? Why does the ‘uncontrollable’ bother us?
A French-Algerian philosopher named Albert Camus offers an interesting take on dealing with life and its absurdities. Camus was a firm believer in the meaningless of life and the indifference of the world on human existence. His absurdism advocates for the futility in finding meaning in everything and trying so hard in the face of fortune’s fatalities. For Camus, freedom is accepting the absurd nature of human existence, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us and going on with life. His philosophy does not end in nihilism as some would like to argue, instead it is an effort to recognize the limits of human condition and try to overcome them. The absurdism of life is liberating for Camus, it dispels the burden of making sense of it. How is Camus relevant to us? His philosophy is a reminder that our rat-race is pointless, it does not really matter if we reach a place 5 mins early or late, what matters is how we deal with the absurdity of life.
Trapped in a traffic jam, mental or not; we must decide for ourselves whether the situation will enslave us or liberate us. We can respond with denial, regret, annoyance, or we can accept the uncertain nature of existence and let loose the grip we have in life. This process will make us comfortable with ‘not knowing’ and ‘not controlling’ everything in life and this will provide us freedom to be what we are. In a meaningless existence, we can create our own meaning and build our lives with what is within our power. However, not expecting that the world is run by our rules. Recalling the Greek Myth of Sisyphus, we are reminded of a person named Sisyphus, trapped in his living condition to absolute futility of rolling a boulder up the hill only to have it roll down every time it reaches the top. Our lives caught up in the mundane routine seems no less than a burden we carry like Sisyphus, the difference lies in our attitude towards it. However noisy our life sounds, we can take it on with a smile or a frown. Because this defines our take on the world. Any hurdle in life is an opportunity to shape or change our mindsets, even a traffic jam; it might not be in our power to clear the traffic jam or stop the blowing of horns, but it is in our hands to clear that mental traffic jam which is obstructing our happiness. So, next time you get caught up in a traffic jam, remember to stay calm and not honk at the face of an already deafening world.
-Tanya Yadav (Freelancer)
Picture Credits: stressmanagement.co.uk