Zen, Shmen.

Sometimes a lifetime of voracious reading is an advantage; other times, not so much.  On the upside, as long as I have a book (or newspaper or magazine or propaganda pamphlet or even a shampoo bottle with text on the label) I’ll never be bored.

On the downside, having a bottomless well of trivia in one’s brain isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  I know what to do in just about any situation, but it’s not always practicable to do it.

For example, I know how to make a gas mask out of an empty bleach bottle, a bulletproof vest out of Bibles, and a deadly weapon out of a newspaper.  I sincerely hope I’ll never be in a situation where I need these skills.  But if I were, I suspect that the chances of actually having an empty bleach bottle, a stack of Bibles, or a newspaper are slim to none.

In the non-lethal side of my reading, I’ve also absorbed a startling variety of random information:  Business and marketing and writing tips out the ying-yang, of course; but also fascinating factoids on everything from neuroplasticity, Buddhism, and quantum physics to Wicca, time management, and mindfulness meditation.

The latter two came to mind last weekend while I was broiling in my car at a dead stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  There’s something about a traffic jam that ratchets my blood pressure up to Vesuvius levels.  It’s part claustrophobia and part resentment over the waste of my all-too-scant ‘spare’ time.

The time management books tell me that sitting in traffic is an ideal time to plan to-do lists and so forth, but I think they underestimate my powers of concentration.  (Which is a polite way to say I’m incapable of driving and thinking at the same time.)  If I started plotting Book 12 while sitting in a traffic jam, I’d blink back to reality two hours later still parked in the same place while infuriated drivers honked and swerved around me, spewing invective and flipping me the universal gesture of fellowship and goodwill.

Or how about Zen and mindfulness?  I should ‘be in the moment’.  There was no emergency; I wasn’t late for any appointments; and there were absolutely no negative consequences that could result from my slowdown.  I should just breathe.  Relax and enjoy the downtime.

Zen, shmen.  I knew a detour that would take me to my destination via the back ways and save me oodles of time!

Or not.

In the traffic jam, I had noticed that the black minivan ahead of me had a distinctive set of those little family-caricature decals on the back.  When I finally made it to my destination half an hour after winding through a series of convoluted back streets, guess what I saw in front of me?  That same damn minivan.  Apparently it took precisely the same amount of time to inch through the traffic jam as it had taken me to follow my complicated detour.

That took a bit of the shine off my triumph, but not as much as you might think.  I’d rather be actively driving than sitting in traffic for the same amount of time.  And at least nobody yelled or flipped me off.

Zen traffic meditator or complex detour planner – which are you?  And what’s the most obscure thing you’ve learned lately?

* * *

New discussion over at the VBBC:  Blue Eddy:  Man of Mystery.  What do you really know about Eddy?  Click here to have your say!

41 thoughts on “Zen, Shmen.

  1. Upon mature reflection, I don’t know if I fit into either of those categories. I love to drive. And I hate to get stuck in traffic. I have been stuck enough that I have developed the habit of watching traffic as far ahead as I can see. If possible, I reroute whenever I see an ocean of brake lights in front of me. If I can, I do. If I can’t, I just sit there and fume. And I’m never without a GPS of some sort, ever if it’s just the built-in one on my cell phone.

    GPS traffic avoidance is neither foolproof nor anywhere near a hundred percent reliable, but if it gets you into a mess, it’ll generally get you back out. Eventually. Maybe. Sorta. Ish.

    But I’d much rather sit through a couple of hours of gridlock than I had to spend thirty minutes in an airport.

    I think airports are where bad people go when they die.


    • P.S. Congratulations on your Book 12 progress, Diane! Most excellently done! I’m happy to see the lines cranking across the graph at last.

      On a related note, I haven’t made much progress of late for one reason or another, but I’m about to turn the corner on that, I think. When sitting all cranked back in my recliner, I can ease my left arm out of the sling and rest it on my laptop that’s perched on a comfortable lap desk. That keeps everything in the same relative position, more or less, as it is when in the sling. It’s still a bit too early to start singing ‘Back in the Saddle Again,’ but I can hear Gene Autry warming up in the background. Er, so to speak. 🙂

      523k and change, and 1.127 pages. Gad, this is fun!


    • I’m glad you’re easing your way out of the sling and back into the saddle! But hey, even when you can’t type, that there’s some quality plottin’ time!

      I’ve never used a GPS for traffic – I just don’t trust mine enough. When we’re travelling Hubby usually drives while I navigate with a paper map in my lap and the GPS turned on. It’ll say, “Turn right in… 200 metres” and I’ll say, “Ignore it. Go straight through.” Did I mention Hubby is a patient man? 🙂 (But I almost always do a better job of navigating than the GPS.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m like you: I’d rather be driving than sitting still, even if it ends up taking the same amount of time. I suppose it’s a control thing. We have some control in the matter if we’re driving forward and choosing to detour the traffic. Hmmm, sounds like we could both work on our zen. A little chocolate might help. It helps everything. 🙂

    Hope you’re doing well, Diane, and that you’re having a great June so far!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. With your 100%. If my mind goes somewhere else, the trip can pretty long which isn’t great in a car. I would rather keep moving than inch and my temper would be in much better shape when I finally arrived at my destination.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I cannot sit still, therefore I go around the pile ups even if it takes me out of my way…at least Im going somewhere. Besides it is safer…that stray jet engine that falls from the sky is more likely to squash a person sitting still then one on the move. And you never know when you might need a get away, knowing the alternate routes to different places makes this one step closer to success.

    I love trivia. Remember back in the 80’s the game Trivia Pursuit, well I use to read the cards and memorize the facts just for fun. I was a nerd. As for the most obscure fact I have learned lately…9 balls of yarn equals a pound.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am the detour girl for sure. It’s such a waste of time sitting there. I really should take some meditation classes.

    Most obscure fact? Come on I should win the prize for the echidna’s four headed …..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am both Zen & Ballistic!!! HAHA No reason to have a detour. If I’m in a rush, I’m screwed and become quite the annoyed loud speaker! If I’m not in a rush, I’m Zen….get out my Nook (or Nook app on my phone) and read until traffic moves again!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My mission when driving is to keep moving. Find the secondary through streets, the other bridge, especially when I am on my way home and time is not an issue. I do the unthinkable. I will get off the parking lot of a freeway, exit into downtown and drive in a 25 mph zone along a pleasant parkway, yealding to pedestrians and sharing the roadway with bicycle riders and letting those trying to get out of driveways out, rather than sit for miles on a freeway trying to inch ahead, trying to merge into the next lane because the one you’re in is about to become an “exit only” lane. I’m with you, Diane, get out of the traffic jam and preserve your sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re kindred spirits – I do that, too! One of our routes to the airport goes through downtown along a parkway beside the river, at 50 km/hr (30 mph). All things being equal, the total travel time is exactly the same as the high-speed routes, but I only go that way when Hubby’s not in the car because the slow speed limit drives him bonkers. He’d rather sit in a traffic jam on a “high-speed” road than take the low-speed route. I guess opposites really do attract! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t mind sitting in traffic jams most of the time, Diane. Everyone’s one in a traffic jam, dillops and non-dillops alike. In traffic jams, the dillops are easy to spot with their horn-tootin’ and gesticulating. I just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Unless I’m late, and then I toot and gesticulate like the rest of ’em… well, in my mind, I do. I’m a calming influence, me…
    However, if I were to plan something, as suggested, all would be forgotten the moment I move forward an inch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true, Tom – at least in a traffic jam everyone’s equal. I’m not the horn-tootin’ type, but if Hubby’s behind the wheel I’ve been known to say, “Meet you there or else pick me up when you catch up”, and get out and walk, even in the middle of a snowstorm. Anything’s better than just sitting there.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I have so many useless pieces of information in my brain. Here are some of my favourites:
    George W Bush and Saddam Hussein had the same Italian cobbler make their shoes.
    Under extremely high pressure you can make diamonds from peanut butter.
    The amount of peanut butter that the USA consumes in one day could cover the entire floor of the grand canyon.
    There are over 4000 species of frog and only one goes ribbit.
    There are over 1800 species of bat and none of them are blind.
    The Spanish inquisition were legally obliged to give 30 days notice; so people should have expected them.
    As I said, they are hardly ever useful.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I am definitely the complicated detour type. Speaking of text on the shampoo bottle, do they say the same thing in Canada? Lather, rinse,repeat? Do you spell it different?

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! It’s spelled the same, but it always makes me laugh because it reminds me of the joke about the computer programmer who drowned in the shower because he followed the infinite loop: “Lather, rinse, repeat.” Those shampoo bottles should come with warning labels.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Do you remember Trivial Pursuit? You would be a whiz at it. Me too, except Movies and Sports. The shampoo bottle with text made me smile, as I recognize the symptoms. Calgary has traffic jams? Agree detours are better than sitting, fuming and wishing you had an Uzi. Different routes also allow you to avoid the truck. You know, the truck that comes out of nowhere and hits you and kills you and if you had been five seconds sooner or later, or someplace else, you would have been fine – that truck.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. OMG – I’m EXACTLY the same way. It’s not really about saving time; it’s about keeping the momentum up. Sitting in a traffic jam is akin to my idea of hell. I’d much rather spend that time on a detour through random neighborhoods or country roads on which I’ve never before traveled …. I’m moving (key point) AND I’m seeing new things/places/people I’ve never seen before. That’s a win-win in my book, even if I do wind up right back behind that damned black minivan with the annoying family tree stickers ….. Thanks for the reminder and the laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you got a laugh! And you’re right, it’s all about new scenery and a bit of adventure. My dad used to try a different route every time he went somewhere just for the sake of seeing new things, so maybe I inherited that from him!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Dear Ms. Henders,

    Know what it is to read and read in an attempt to fill your curiosity. My primary purpose in life is Airport and soft target security – antiterrorist technology. My colleagues are patient with me, they attempt to respond to my questions and frequently send me research data.

    Are you interested in a down graded from Top Secret to public information (very informative) document that was translated by MI-5 and used to train filed agents on the techniques Al-Qaida uses in the field. It as translated from an Al-Qaida training manual.

    Please let me know if you would like non-classified antiterrorist documents.

    Best Regards

    Bob Smallback


    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that’s fascinating, Bob – thank you! That’s a vast and complex field of research, and constantly changing, I’m sure.

      I’ve done some research in that area for my books, but it generally just makes me feel anxious. Between the scary facts that I’ve already assimilated and what my too-fertile imagination can fabricate, I’m happier if I try not to think about it too much. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Kinda makes me glad I don’t drive, I’d end up following some random person.

    I do find myself kinda drifting off while I’m listening and making notes at work, its not good but fortunately I’ve never been caught out.

    I do alot on autopilot, more than I care to admit

    Liked by 1 person

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.