Rush hour. A time of transition and traffic. A smothering storm where flurries of frustration whip about in cold air, making pretty faces ugly and smooth skin wrinkle.
Rush hour. A necessary beast. The blurry bridge between home and work. Between happiness and worry. (As if these things can really be separated.) Rush hour thrusts us together, reminds us of our limits. In the howling wind, we hear whispers: You can only walk so fast. Drive so fast. Think so fast. Be so fast. And so. We are forced to slow our pace. Or stop altogether. To stand still in a spot we didn't choose. To breathe in air damp with pollution and regret and longing. To suck down the sweet breath of others. We race and rush. We bump bodies. We tangle umbrellas. We mutter dirty words.
We just want to get there. To be there. (But where is there?)
At the end of the day, there is home. And once home, we shed a coat. Park a bag. Find a smile. Kiss a cheek. Hug a child. Sip a drink. We resume who it is we were before the mad rush. And after. Ensconced in the comfort of home, we begin to forget. The human hassle, the gridlock of stop and go, now and later, self and other. We settle in. Unwind. Breathe.
Unless, that is, we don't.
Unless rush hour isn't just an hour, but a lifestyle. A way of being.
And some of us don't deal with rush hour per se. Some of us don't wear trench coats and carry briefcases. Some of us don't stomach packed subways in the early morning or early evening. Some of us don't feel the heat of the masses racing to a place where they can stop racing. Some of us don't sit in slow-moving cars, cursing the cosmos. Some of us are home already.
But all of us, all of us, feel the pressure, the ruthless race, the shortness of time and space. All of us have moments when we feel trapped, stalled, stifled. All of us have moments where we feel small, stuck, spinning. Going nowhere.
This is not just rush hour.
This is life.
But what if we, right here and right now, redefined rush hour? What if we commandeered it and gave it a positive spin? What then?
Rush Hour 2.0. One hour per day (or week or month) where we stop because we want to. Where we permit ourselves to forget others, even others we love deeply. Where we stop bemoaning the blur of obligations, the beckoning of lists and focus squarely on self. One hour where we do something we love. Or like. Something that takes us away.
Something that gives us a rush. The good kind.
For some - for me - this hour would be spent writing stories. For some, it might be doing yoga. For some, it might be watching television. Or learning a language. Or designing jewelry. Or writing letters to old friends. Or daydreaming. Or playing that guitar that's been gathering dust. Or baking. Or biking. Or surfing the web. Or reading a good book.
The possibilities are endless.
Imagine if rush hour was something we came to crave and celebrate, not curse? Imagine that.
How do you handle rush hour, the frustrations of a fast-paced contemporary existence, the transitions that bookend the day? If you had one hour all to yourself during which the din and chaos of real life would mercifully subside, how would you spend it? Do you find it hard to carve time for yourself as a person when so much time and energy is spent being a parent or a professional? Do you know anyone for whom rush hour is not just an hour, but a way of life?