This word immediately brings to my mind a hot humid day in southern India. With a friend, Jeannie, visiting from Hong Kong, my husband and I took a van for a day outing to shop. On our way from one shop to the next, we neared an intersection of a busy road and came to an abrupt stop. Our driver immediately began honking his horn. Looking through the front windshield, I saw the chaos that laid out in front of us. Vehicles in the intersection were at a standstill. They were facing each other, bumper to bumper, fender to fender, on all four sides. The driver pressed closer to the car in front of us until we touched. The car behind us followed suit, honking and pushing closer. Vehicles began creeping slowly nearer on all sides of our van. Cars, buses, trucks, and rickshaws joined in the chaos, honking and pushing, filling up any miniscule available space in their effort to move forward. The gridlock tightened and expanded. The volume rose as more drivers added their own noise to the chaos, laying on their horns. My mind couldn’t register all the sounds that didn’t blend together. They stood out in discordance. The cacophony of shrill, strident, and blast-like horns combined with angry people loudly shouting in a language I did not understand while leaning out from the side of their rickshaws or from their car windows, hands waving in the air. The chorus of sounds swelled to an ear-piercing volume.
It was like nothing I had seen or heard before.
Where could we go?
What would the shouting, honking, and pushing forward accomplish when we were completely stuck?
Shaking our heads, the absurdity of it all made us laugh. Watching the chaos swirl around us, we simply waited until traffic slowly eventually unlocked and we were able to move forward.
It reminded me of the times in my own life that I have done the same thing. Vehemently trying to push forward without thought or reason to no avail. Feeling frustrated at being stuck, my thoughts race and the volume of my inner voice rises. To no purpose, just pushing and raging.
It’s during these times I need to take a step back. To pause amid the cacophony of my chaos. Take a breath and survey the land. Quiet my mind, gain understanding and look for the best way to move forward. Or simply wait until the road is open and I can move forward unimpeded.