In the park, without a hurry

After leaving home at the end of Thanksgiving break, I got stuck in some bad traffic. It wasn’t the worst delay I’ve experienced, but it was certainly nerve-wracking to wait behind a long line of cars, wondering if the main roads had it as bad today as the backroads did. My brother asked me if this route was usually so crowded. When I told him it wasn’t, he looked at me like I was crazy. He was worried about getting to the bus station on time. At first, I told him confidently that he would be fine, and would get there with time to spare. After getting onto Highway 281, however, I wasn’t so sure.

As I sat with my car in park behind an old van, music playing on my stereo, I thought about just getting through this moment, then the next one, and all the moments after, as they came, just one at a time. I told myself that we would make it through this awful traffic and dreary weather, and we’d get back to our respective universities that day (and we did). We just didn’t know what our arrival times would be.

In the end, my brother and I both made it back just fine. We were delayed a little under two hours, and I still got back to my dorm before it was dark outside. After the traffic jam, the rest of the drive was easy and even somewhat pleasant. The backroads from Austin to San Antonio have some lovely scenery that’s easy to admire even when the weather is awful. I have to admit, it was easy to forget about the anxiety long drives tend to cause me as I noticed the trees and houses that dotted the sides of the road and, in the case of the Hill Country near Austin, the mansions nestled among seas of green. These sights helped me realize that driving doesn’t have to be as bad as I often make it out to be. Even when you’re stuck in almost the same spot for nearly an hour, you can still enjoy the views, the music, and even the company of a passenger or two.

I’ve often fretted over losing time, as well as simply not using it properly. Even when I’ve been productive with my time, I wonder whether I could’ve done more with it. Coming back to San Antonio that day, I thought at first of all the “lost time” that has accumulated. I remembered papers that needed to be written, reading that had to get done, unpacking and organizing that needed to happen later that day. But when I think about listening to that music, laughing with my brother, and admiring the views, I realize that I don’t have any real loss to account for. That day, I learned to stop rushing, cease my worrying, and slow down. Everything will turn out all right in the end, I told myself. And, in the end, it did.