Total traffic jam

Traffic jams can be a good life lesson in how to stay calm, focused, and resilient in order to reach our destination or the goals we’ve set out to reach.

Recently I got stuck in a traffic jam that was the mother of all traffic jams. I was stuck, there was no way out, nowhere to go, no escape. Bumper to bumper no end in sight. I feel like life is like that sometimes. I get stuck and feel like there is no way out of the situation. Sometimes, I feel like that in the classroom and in my life.

A traffic jam is a special kind of problem. Road rage sets in, we want to blame the other drivers, the conditions, the poor road network whatever it is, but rarely do we reflect inwards. Mindfulness has now become a ubiquitous word for everything in our lives. And so I use it now with hesitation but feel like it is relevant to our circumstances. When I try to find someone or something to blame I take the responsibility off of myself and put it elsewhere.

Maybe the alternative could be more valuable or helpful. What could I do to change my situation, what can be done by me to restore order, sanity and peace? It’s not an easy question and there is no easy answer. Whether we are in the classroom as teachers or living our everyday lives as citizens and human beings in today’s highly demanding world. I think it is a great analogy, the traffic jam, because when we are backed into a corner our instinct is to push back and release the fury.

It’s not your circumstances or situation, it’s your mindset.

When I found myself in this traffic jam, not moving an inch and with nowhere to go I took a deep breath and told myself that this is just a ‘jam’ that will pass and sooner or later I’ll get to my destination. It helped tremendously because I took the focus off my anger and frustration and instead tried to focus on the positive. We all find ourselves in similar situations and so maybe the answer is not to panic, get angry or lose hope but to relax, because sometimes time is needed to reach our destination, our goals our objectives. As teachers, we must realize that our students need time, our efforts are not wasted but appreciated and that as long as we stay positive and follow the path set out we will reach it eventually. As professionals a similar mindset is important and beneficial. As parents, taking a deep breath and letting go can help us get through the ‘jam’ too.

In the end, the traffic jam ended, I reached my intended destination, maybe a bit late but I made it and had my lesson as well as learning a valuable lesson – stay the course, take a deep breath, trust that the ‘jam’ will end and ultimately the aim will be accomplished. We all get stuck, how we choose to deal with it is the key, our mindset, our mindfulness of the ultimately goal makes us stronger, more resilient and persistent to follow through on whatever we’ve set out to do. Keep driving, inch by inch and no matter how long it takes, you’ll get there eventually.

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