People have struggled to affirm, confirm, justify their existence for hundreds of years. There is a serach for meaning. A proof of life, or of living. There is a desire to establish that existence is more than illusion, a mental image that is distorted by the invention of time. Theologians, philosophers and psychologists have all wrestled with this. Each has given existence a label.
Rene Descarte defined existence with the expression, "I think, therefore I am." This provided a sense of stability for those in the midst of modernity, but in the world of post-modernity it has fallen short in its ability to provide that sense of "is." In this day many have chosen to express existence in this way, "I feel, therefore I am." This reflects ones abilty to connect, interact and sense at deeper levels.
Yale surgery professor Sherwin Nuland, MD has suggested that "I wrinkle, therefore I am" provides the assurance that life does not lose meaning as sight dims, hair recedes and gravity takes over.
I believe that each of these definitions is inadequate to connect us to genuine existence and meaning. This realization came to me on a recent trip to Southern California. I sat in four lanes of traffic on Interstate 15 headed south at a complete stand still. I have experienced much the same in the Atlanta area, Chicagoland, the San Francisco Bay area, outside of Raleigh, North Carolina and varoius other roadways around the United States. But it was on I-15 that the reality of existence made itself clear. I discovered a tangible way, a means that would concretely anchor humanity to this world. It was a discovery that will release us to existence itself. This serendipity of being? Traffic!
People seated in vehicles of all shapes, sizes, colors and makes must realize this is our existence! We have been created for traffic. Traffic gives us meaning. It can dictate our emotions and daily dispositions. It gives each of us a means to relate to others in our lined asphalt realities.
Traffic has become all consuming. We build our schedules around its ebb and flow. We are drawn to this holy "bumper communion." We seek traffic at sporting events, beaches on sunny week-ends, concerts and other urban and suburban centers. We have realigned our dependence on traffic for our existence. We shun mass transit, car pools and will pay increasingly higher fuel prices merely to be involved, solo, in this needed connection to the essence of life.
It is no longer I think, therefore I am; nor I feel therefore, I am; nor I wrinkle, therefore I am. Instead it is I AM IN TRAFFIC, THEREFORE I AM! It is in traffice we genuinely feel fully alive.