One-Way Street

We got stuck in the traffic on the way home from Key West on Monday. I’ve heard this happens a lot on Sundays. So it’s no surprise we would run into a jam returning home on a national holiday. Especially since there is only one lane in and out of the Florida Keys.

One-way-street-mandala-5-31-16-jtI’m definitely not the first person to say this. But if you are going to be stuck in traffic for several hours, you might as well have a beautiful view. I literally just kept exclaiming out loud at the beauty quite literally all around me.

It was also a little intimidating and humbling to be on a such a thin strip of road with ocean on all sides. What would happen if I lost control of the wheel for a moment, or got a flat tire? And, from a philosophical standpoint, it’s hard to argue that the world was created to serve and center around man, as some religions do, when there is nothing but water all around you. It made me feel pretty insignificant, but in a good way.

As beautiful as it was, I still felt trapped. Kind of like a man married to a trophy wife. And I got to thinking about options and choices.I know some people love tradition. I’m not a huge fan, because I think it can stop people from living the life they really want to live. But I can see the value in routine. It’s more a framework than a mandate, and you can still maintain a lot of freedom within a routine.

I synced the car radio to my “red ipod” mix, the one I play on my red “AIDS awareness” iPod nano on the rare occasions that I exercise. On a regular day, this would get me pumped for the drive home. I love listening and singing along to my favorite songs on long road trips. But the music was giving me too much energy that I couldn’t use while standing still, spinning my wheels. So I had to slow myself down for the long ride home. Which is another observation I’ve made – that you almost have to slow or dull your excitement when you are stuck in an undesirable situation or with unappealing people.

It’s a long way down the holiday road. – Lindsey Buckingham

When you know you are stuck, it’s easy to adjust, temporarily. But for me, being stuck in a life with only one way to go and live would be insufferable and suffocating.I can understand why some people in past and present times have become so bored with the staid path that they are willing to take a chance of ending up mangled on the rocks below to escape the predictability and monotony of the well-trod path. Cue “Standing Outside the Fire” by Garth Brooks.

Thankfully, we have many more choices today than ever before about where we work, vacation, dine; what we read, drive, consume, do in our free time, and so on. Some say having too many choices can be as bad as having too few. If you’ve ever had to choose from a restaurant menu that is more than a few pages long, you can probably identify with this. It’s overwhelming. You almost have to pick a category like chicken and go from there.

Despite the traffic, which extended our return commute by an hour or two, and maybe because of the gorgeous scenery, I was sad to see the long and relaxing weekend come to an end. We had a chance to completely disconnect and really enjoy ourselves sleeping in, at the hotel pool, listening to live local music, enjoying delicious seafood and walking to all of our sightseeing destinations.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I had plenty of time to work through this feeling. By the time I got home, I remembered that it really is my favorite place. My grandfather used to say he liked to get his “feet under his own table.” Vacations are great, but there is a unique and indescribable comfort that comes with being in your own home.

For the day’s mandala, I decided to create a one-way road to nowhere in the center to represent US-1. Which ended up looking more like a stream or a waterfall in the final analysis. Which might not be too far from its watery fate if a really powerful hurricane were to whip through the area one day. Yet another poignant reminder that this “land” belongs to no man.

I then surrounded the road with waves, bubbles, palm trees and foliage to represent the wide world around me. There’s another ring of lighthouses pointing beacons of light in a number of directions, beckoning the lemming on the one-way street to go another way, any way.

I also added a ring of arrows going in the same direction, pointing counterclockwise. Which is interesting, because let’s face it, if you are on the one-way street, you are probably going nowhere, or traveling in circles. Unless you are lucky enough to be going home. 🙂 jt