Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Luke Skywalker is Helping Me Deal with Traffic

I've been in LA almost 2 months now.  People warned me, oh, the traffic, especially after New York that's just going to drive you crazy.

And I kept thinking, have you ever walked on the streets of New York? As readers of this blog already know, I think there should be stop signs strictly for the sidewalk.  And don't get me started on the subway (other than to say, people, when the doors to the train open, YOU NEED TO LET US OFF THE TRAIN before you get on).

Last six weeks, yeah, I've seen traffic, but I haven't been in much of a hurry and frankly after the experience of having strangers touching you all the time (and in a crowded train, all over), I've basically relished the solitude of car travel.

Today, I had my first full day of film school orientation.  And we needed to be there by 9:30, so rush hour traffic became a definite issue.

Now, I left at 8am.  That's 90 minutes to travel what is basically a 20, 25 minute trip.  There really was no way I was going to be late.

And yet, sitting in traffic, bumper to bumper, I realized I can't really guarantee anything. Yeah, 90 minutes should be way way way more than enough.  But who knows how long it's actually going to take me on the 405?  I don't.

So I got out off the highway, and bam, I immediately got stuck on city streets instead.  How long was it going to take now, I soon began to wonder.  Same answer: no idea.

For me, there was something a little existential in that realization.

And maybe there was also an invitation back to my old Star Wars, Episode IV, inside the Millenium Falcon faith.  Early in the original Star Wars, Luke's in the Falcon with Obi-Wan, trying to use his light saber to block the floating globe's little laser beams, and failing miserably. Then, Ben has Luke put down the blast shield on his helmet, rendering him blind.  And he does fantastic.

Point being: Sometimes to get by in life, if you close your eyes and have a little trust, things really will go much better.

(Not a bad reminder at the start of a whole new school adventure, either...)


Michelle said...

Did you make it on time?

I was a grad student in Southern California, but only had a bike. Traffic jams are then a joy - slow and stopped cars are (mostly) less risky. LA traffic does provide many contemplative opportunities!

KenAnselment said...

So the message to all Angelenos is: "Watch out for the dude driving with his blast shield on."

kmbrco said...

You may be the only man with an existential thought in the city.

I'm sure you've seen the Steve Martin film LA Story. Maybe time for a review?

I'm so glad to hear you are studying screenwriting. And a little jealous. I hope it's truly exciting.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of B.S. So closing your eyes will reduce traffic? I'd say you give the Jesuits a bad name, but at this point in history the Jesuits are hard to defame or lampoon. Even a less literal interpretation of your closing maxim is ridiculous: if we close our eyes and trust (whom? what?) things will "sometimes" go much better? Wow. Such wisdom. It's a wonder you're studying screenwriting instead of something deeper. I mean, who would think that you would fit in with all the vapid dialogue that screenwriters produce?

M Russell said...

Guess I'd best never ride the subway -- personal space, please!! I lived near Salt Lake City as they were preparing for the Olympics, and the interstate was eerily similar to the pod races in Episode I...but in general I found LA traffic to be much less stressful than SLC at rush hour.

But I must ask: Is this what the Jesuits mean by "Contemplatives in traffic, er ...action?!"

Jim McDermott, SJ said...

Loved the comments. Thanks for all of them. Anonymous -- I can feel your rage. Come to the Dark Side.

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