Nerang. Tuesday, 2.35pm
It’s early afternoon on a weekday. The motorway, despite four lanes heading south, is jam-packed with vehicles. Traffic jam-packed. Beside me is a Mercedes sports, capable of 200km/hr, inching along in first gear. Its driver, a young woman with huge sunglasses and bright red lipstick, talks angrily into an invisible phone and continually checks her watch. She’s obviously late for something.
Yes, bloody traffic jam. I’m impatient with this delay too. Why do we waste so much money on these useless motorways? (I know the answer: corporate dominance of our political life.) I’m in a hurry.
But wait – I have no commitment to rush to. Why am I in a hurry? Hurrying, I realise, is just my default state of being.
Society is strangling us, squeezing the humanity from us, making us spin like cogs in the machine. The social structures we created to serve us now rule us, and they’re not human. Past knowledge is disrespected, the mystical is illegal, the human detained.
The traffic comes to a complete halt, a thousand internal combustion engines blowing carbon dioxide into the air. It’s depressing. The world is so wrong. Or is it?
How can it be wrong? It’s the only world we got.
We yearn for the meaning of life. Maybe meaning lies with God or Buddha (but don’t confuse the metaphorical truth with the literal nonsense). Maybe meaning lies with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet (but don’t be surprised that all roads are not the empty highway of the brochure). Maybe meaning is with DMT, MDMA or THC (but don’t confuse illusion with illumination).
Our search for meaning consumes us. You can buy meaning on the internet or from Woolworths.
The woman pulls the plug from her ear, throws it onto the passenger seat, and shakes her head. She grabs a tissue from a box and pushes it up under her sunglasses. She’s crying.
But what if life has no meaning? What if the search for meaning is, well, meaningless? What then?
A motorbike, with a rear tyre so fat it seems the bike could stay upright at rest without a stand, rumbles past, threading between the Merc and my Superoo, and moving forward through the stalled lanes of traffic.
What if our human potential lies not in finding the illusory meaning of life but in actually experiencing being alive. Maybe that’s what humans are for. Just that.
Maybe people, like superheroes and gods, can shed the social and traditional shackles, dive into the darkness of our fears, accept the world in all its gritty reality, see the ugly and the beautiful as the same world, and be fully alive in the glorious reality of our improbable existence. There is no before, no after, no why. There is only the traffic jam, the crying woman, the idling motors.
My sense of hurry is dissolving.
I hear Diana Krall singing at very low volume on my sound system. I turn it up. Man, she can sing. And play piano. I don’t understand jazz, but it brings me close to the irrational joy of living. The hazy waves of exhaust bend and distort the car in front of me. It’s trippy, beautiful even.
A feeling of… well, not being in a hurry settles over me. It makes me beat out Krall’s I Love Being Here With You on the steering wheel, and do weird neck movements. Yeah, right now, I feel good.
I turn to the woman in the Merc. She’s looking at me. She smiles when I smile at her, still drumming out the rhythm on the steering wheel and still jerking my neck in time with the music.
Her smile breaks into a laugh, and she jerks her neck too.