Today I took the usual route to work, my car laboring through lines of traffic. With my audiobook blasting through my speakers, I listened to an intricate story being narrated. I imagined the scenes and characters: a woman with dusty hair and high cheekbones, the city of Rome with its ancient statues and structures, fountains gurgling and ivy crawling — everything in motion. That was my escape.
Sometimes I zone out to a song, the rhythm prodding my feet to move, fingers to tap on the wheel as I drive. But typically, I prefer a story. Because a good author has the ability to mesmerize, to mix words as a chef stirs a sauce, folding in each ingredient with precision. And the aroma entices.
So there I was, sampling a story in my car on my commute to work, tasting the sweet rhythm of artfully arranged words. And then I saw it: a familiar license plate. It was the same plate I recalled seeing in front of me yesterday, and possibly the day before. How many days had I traversed the road with that car, the one with the word “Juls” stamped on the rear plate? Suddenly, I wondered if the cars to my left and to my right were also familiar. How often had we shared the road– strangers engrossed in our individual worlds, our thoughts swirling down lists of tasks to be done?
We devour our days before they begin, swallowing each second in a single gluttonous gulp. Never tasting. Never savoring.
It is human to wander into rooms we’ve not yet entered physically, mentally clicking on computer programs and watching an avalanche of email messages drop. We imagine conversations, feel the flame of vexing words bringing heat into our veins. I’m good at that — becoming angry about words that never were spoken.
We live outside of our bodies, always swimming, climbing, reaching for the future. And as we chase the tail of tomorrow, we miss the magic of this moment. We fail to see who drives beside us as the sun sprays gold in the spaces between each cloud and tree.
Sometimes there is beauty in the wandering of our thoughts. To daydream is to dance beyond gravity in a weightless world. And I am a daydreamer, an other-world inhabitant. I always have been. I suppose it is human to escape, or to yearn to be elsewhere at any given time. But in doing so, I rob my senses of the “now” experience.
And I wonder as I wade through traffic… have we met?