Choose Your Own Adventure

I’m typically a pretty easy-going guy, maybe not the most spontaneous or energetic, but easy-going – unless I’m tired.  When I’m tired, I have trouble focusing, prioritizing, and solving problems, and subsequently make mistakes that require more energy to correct them.  Understandably, my tolerance for additional cognitive work at this point is entirely depleted, compounding my frustration and inefficiency.  Then my attitude follows its usual migratory pattern south and I get quiet, if only to refrain from cussing out my own deficits.  With that in mind, my drive home from the Celebration Of Lights in Vancouver Saturday night/Sunday morning is a little more understandable – or perhaps not.

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out for Canada’s presentation on the last night of the show, and all of them had to get home afterwards.  Kristin and I chose to walk the five kilometers from her place to the show, in the interest of exercise and enjoying the process – noble objectives, both of which we were less passionate about after the show.  To rest our legs and kill some time while the crowd dispersed, we ducked into a restaurant for a late night snack.  Refreshed, we continued our trek in the wee hours of the morning, noting that Vancouver after midnight is sort of like Victoria at noon.  Shortly after 1:00am I was back on the road and, with little thought or concern for traffic, made good time out of the city.

And then the Port Mann bridge happened.  More specifically, the Port Mann Bridge happened about four kilometers before the Port Mann bridge.  This wasn’t a traffic jam, this was a traffic molasses – and everyone was stuck.  So there I was, tired, rooted in traffic, and too brain-dead to map out an alternate route.

I was also enjoying myself.

Despite passing thoughts of polar ice caps melting due to the vast amount of exhaust billowing into the warm night sky, I was on a bit of a high, which, now that I think of it, may also have been due to car exhaust.  I was tired, but my spirits hadn’t yet plummeted.  In fact, I was getting a kick out of how absurd the traffic was, and how late I would be getting home.  The frustration and annoyance usually reserved for this kind of inconvenience were conspicuously absent.  Instead, I was enlivened at the idea of embarking on this epic journey across the bridge with hundreds of other cars at 0.5 km/h, a solid line of red lights ahead and white lights behind.  Instead of seeing other cars as foes, we were all in this together, comrades fighting to return home to see family or, in my case, check email and stuff.

In the end, I got home around 3:00am.  Sure, I was pretty wrecked for Sunday and only marginally better today, but the fact remains that I didn’t sink to the depths I was known for before.  I’m still not entirely sure why I was able to keep it together and actually enjoy the insanely long commute.  I could tell that something different was going on in my head.  Whether it was my brain or my mind, I don’t know, but I could tell that the usual neural circuit to creative cussing had been bypassed.  Was it because of the great music I was listening to?  The warm air and the rolled down windows?  Perhaps, but I’d say those were the results of my mental shift rather than the cause of it.  I hesitate to say I simply chose to be in a better mood because I’m not convinced we’re able to choose our emotional responses, but there was a certain perspective taking shape in my mind that enabled me to roll with the punches easier, and for now I’ll call it acceptance.  I knew I would be getting home late, and whether I got to bed at 1:00am or 3:00am didn’t make a huge difference.  And since I was okay with that, I was free to just enjoy the havoc of crazy traffic.

This leads me to believe that I could save myself a lot of grief if I accepted more.  Accept the frustrating situations.  Accept the annoying people.  Accept the challenges of brain damage.  Accept myself.  I think I spend too much time fighting battles that can’t be won and waste far too much valuable energy doing so.  Once I accept things, people, and life, it seems I can better choose how to respond, behave, and live.

And good tunes help too.


About jaybrandsma

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3 Responses to Choose Your Own Adventure

  1. Lana says:

    Favorite line: “Vancouver after midnight is like Victoria at noon.” But I liked how you pointed out that you’re not convinced we can choose our emotional responses, but perspective can take over and change them. Nicely done, again. Acceptance is a powerful thing.

  2. Oh I totally think you can choose your emotional some degree…I also have the ability of choosing a different emotional response for Ty if I decide that I don’t like the one he has chosen for himself. True story.

  3. Jane says:

    We don’t choose our emotional responses, but our thoughts create them. Thought always precedes emotion. If you want to experiment with adjusting your emotional state, try tracing (and adjusting) the thought or thoughts that led to the emotion in the first place. It’s an illuminating exercise.

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