Ring-Around-The-Rosie Traffic

This is an accurate representation of how I feel lately. Like a storm of despair with a shot of beauty running through it. If I concentrate hard enough on the rainbow, I don't feel the fear of the storm.

Even the idea of life as a road that I'm following, though cliche, is quite accurate.

Driving and traffic, I've noticed lately, have their own strange beauty to them. I recently got my own car, so I'm driving much more than I ever have before. It occurred to me yesterday, as I rushed on to the expressway on my way to kung fu, that it would be hard to program a computer to simulate traffic. For example, I merged on to 131-South behind a slow semi and in front of a Fed Ex van. Usually, I'm terrified around semis, but my big old (1993) Ford Explorer can't accelerate fast enough to pass the thing quickly, so I slowed down and left it some room and it pulled away from me. I moved a lane to the left. The Fed Ex Van stayed in the lane to my right, and then jumped into my lane, one more lane left, sped past me, and then crossed over again to exit. At first, I thought, "Did you have to ring-around-the-rosie me before you exited?" But then I noticed, as I got closer in to town, that many cars, vans, and even a pick-up truck with a trailer, all do similar seemingly pointless (and dangerous!) manouverings. I supposed that I did them too. I mean, we've all had that conversation with ourselves: "Okay, better pass this guy...isn't that lane closed up ahead? Well, let me squeak in here. Oh shoot, the exit's on the left!" and zip-sip-slip, we're jogging all over the highway, playing ring-around-the-rosie with all the other drivers on the road. It's like a well choreographed dance, except none of us know it. It's a natural kind of chaos, and I suppose it has its own patterns.

I find it, sometimes, a strange coincidence that everyone I see on the road near me is on the road at exactly the same time I am, going the same direction! What are the odds, if you really think about it, that a particular person will be in a particular place at a particular time? And as one by one, each car peels away from me and heads in its own direction, its driver thinking his own thoughts, I am left alone on my route. All of us, maybe six or seven cars, came from different places, converged for a while on a road, and then scattered off again. I wonder, if you watched from above, if these convergings happen noticably, or repeatedly.

I'm sure some civil engineer somewhere knows exactly how these traffic things play out, and all of my new discoveries are in fact old, but traffic and patterns are a safe place for my mind to wander. And it never hurts to see a little beauty in a mundane thing.

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