Traffic Karma

Do we set the patterns of the world with our individual actions and thoughts? After all, nothing happens until someone forms a thought.
He was an eighteen year old kid wearing an orange tee-shirt. He was two car links in front of us at the traffic light. We waited in line; he had a heart attack. I will always have that memory.
I came by this idea in a place where my mind should not have been wandering…I drove to four different destinations today in heavy Los Angeles traffic and survived without harm or causing harm.

The area I covered was probably a total distance of eight to ten miles. I was in the car for a total of three hours.

The trouble with Los Angeles traffic today began early when the traffic reporter announced that there was a tree slide in the middle of a busy street in Brentwood.

I glanced at the television and, sure enough, there were trees lying across two lanes of traffic on Sepulveda Blvd. It looked like half-dozen trees from somebody’s cliff side back yard had fallen to the street below. This happens in LA, particularly after it has rained a couple of days. And much like the forest in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” or the walking trees from the movie, “The Lord of the Rings,” these errant trees wreak havoc.

Commuters would not arrive on time, patients would be late for doctor visits and the worst, today’s drivers were destined to while away large segments of their lives in long lines of traffic. Los Angeles is one of the worst places, but it is happening everywhere. It is happening to Charlotte, and even, the crossroads of Shuffletown.

Driving in LA exposes you to unlikely circumstances. I swear in the year 2004, Lee and I were tooling down Barrington Drive. Lee was driving. We had not reached Nebraska Ave., we were approaching University High School, when a kid passed us driving a jeep. He was rocking, flaps were flying and drums were thumping. He was even jumping up and down in his seat. He was an eighteen year old kid wearing an orange tee-shirt. He was two car links in front of us at the traffic light. We waited in line; he had a heart attack. I will always have that memory.

I spend a lot of my life in traffic between West LA, Brentwood, and Beverly Hills. The problem is that it takes almost thirty minutes to drive two miles in LA traffic.

When I am driving in LA traffic I am more alert than an Indy racer. Because, I, too, feel like I am driving while straddling a gas tank.

I try to stay calm. My eyes dart in four directions, my ears are more alert than those of a startled rabbit. Sometimes, I am so alert that it takes a honking car to get my attention.

I have my traffic mantras. I always remind myself to breathe. I see glorious fall seasons ablaze with the colors of the rainbow, the mountain brook, the lightness of the evening breeze, and the freedom of thunderstorms, fire and ice.

Today, a woman on a cell phone blew her horn at me, while my wheels were still rolling up to the stop sign. I was driving on a street in a sun-dappled neighborhood and suddenly, her horn blasted at me. Did she want me to run the stop sign? She didn’t care about the stop sign; she just wanted me out of the way.

In a knee jerk reaction, I flipped her “the bird.” How much faster did she want me to move? I did what I should never do in traffic. What you should never do while in traffic. Regret washed over me immediately, because I did not know how she would retaliate.
Why do we do these things to each other in traffic? Why do we honk and rage against the driver in front of you who is trapped in the same situation.

Think of it this way, we are energy. Our pumping hearts are driven by the electricity created by our bodies. Every act we take first begins with a thought. So if each day as we sit in traffic, we treat our fellow drivers with the same disdain our politicians treat each other and, of course, us.

Is the negative energy we create with our thoughts the reflection of the state of our leaders and governments? We live in fear. Stocks tumble and homes are foreclosed and lost. The government will send you $300 for your troubles, but everything stays the same.

We could be the reason some curse, some shoot into passing cars, some evil doers drop bricks onto traffic passing beneath bridges, some throw dogs and babies from cars. The world is full of anonymous crimes and misdeeds. It is all in a day’s drive to work and back.

Is traffic a reflection of the condition of our nation? We live in a land where people are paid high fees to call each other names. Anne Coulter calls someone a “Fag.” Our highest leaders flip “the bird” from the podium when they are irritated. We have elevated bullies from the playground to the world stage and allowed them to speak for us.

Are they a reflection of us or are we a reflection of them?

Honk. Lay on your horn until the traffic moves. I understand, you just want to get to work on time and I am in your way.


Gas heads toward $4.00 a gallon. Honk. Can’t you see I am burning up gas behind you? Move, you @#$%! A loaf of bread costs more than it did last week. Shake your fist at people in the car behind yours. And we know the value of the dollar is tanking.

Who leads who speaks of truth? Who desires to lead us for the sake of turning things around in America? Who will stand up and say, “we have found another way.” And who will lead us away from the price of oil? I cannot find the answers no matter how long it takes to reach my destination.

Here is the outrage. In traffic. It is no wonder we carry such frustration and stress as we drive around. I have decided that here is where we take out our outrage. How else could we feel? This is not the America our parents knew and we are outraged but there is no place to turn.

We all know that. It is an open secret. But we just shrug our shoulders and go about our day. Regular people have to work for a living.

Honk. Honk. Is that a wreck at the next stoplight? It looks like the man two car lengths behind is passing on the right and heading this way.

When was the last time we fought a war to win? Life is a game played by our leaders, trading a few promises for personal gain. No one cries foul. We expect it. What they say and do is always different from their secret memos.

A fire engine roars down Olympic causing traffic to stop, again.
I read today that they found pharmaceuticals in our cities’ water supply. Where do they come from, these chemicals in our drinking water?

Halliburton sells our government gray water who then gives impure water to our troops in Iraq; our sons fighting for our freedoms are drinking this water. Did they ever get those armored Hummers? How about the Kevlar? I don’t know.

Honk. Breathe.

In years before I have feared many things, but the greatest of these was leaving for the Century City grocery store and ending up in Nevada on Route 66.

I always drive in a state of grace because I whisper prayers while driving. I borrow from all faiths and creeds. I drive with the Great Eternal.


You can no longer count on a good job lasting. If you lose your job, how will you afford health care? How will you pay for three meals a day for your children and keep a roof over your head?

The babies born today will not be able to say that they grew up in a time when things were built just so and a hand shake was a contract. Instead, they were born with wolves at the door.

Another presidential election is approaching. Here is another election, another opportunity to turn Americans against each other. I lost friends in the last two elections because I did not vote for the man of their choice.


Did that driver just try to run over the man in the cross walk?

Is it just me who thinks these thoughts? Am I the only one so discouraged by the conditions of the world that I am turning away from the news and current affairs? Breathe.

Our movie stars, our rock stars, our deejays, television stars, ministers, and self-appointed leaders spout lies and deceit. They insinuate and plant evidence about all who do not agree with them.

The Golden Rule has been thrown off the bridge. Who made that choice? Does our karma begin in traffic and spill over onto the world?

Move forward, turn left quickly before the on-coming herd of traffic. Is that green Buick honking at me?

Los Angeles is a global city. We curse each other in 56 languages. As we drive about, honking and cursing, are we throwing into the wind negative thoughts that will whip back upon us in surprising events? As I said, it was a long day in Los Angeles traffic.

So, I sat in traffic for hours today and gave a lot of thought to the meaning of life. Holy books say even your thoughts can cause harm to others. Which made me think about how our actions so often come back and slap us in the butt? If this is possible, why are we doing to such things to each other?

So after eight miles in three hours, I am home, sitting here giving thanks that I survived LA traffic on Thursday, March 6, 2008.
And the bonus is, I think I solved one of life’s great mysteries: We should be nicer in traffic. Write that down somewhere.

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