What Caught in Sydney Traffic Jams Teach Me About Problems

Those are really fancy cars.

The Jeeps, Mini Coopers, Range Rovers and other compact sedans made me cringe with envy thinking that they must have been paying just a fraction of the cost of how much we need to at Malaysia.

I was slowly cruising with occasional careful stares to the GPS. There was another car we nicknamed Butt Weld, driven by Donut following behind us cautiously joining the stream of cars at Elizabeth St, Sydney’s Darlinghurst. We were within minutes of arriving from Canberra. And the cars were to be sent to Mascot, a mere 26km away. And we had 45 minutes.

Which was totally cool if we were at Miri.

But we were at the metropolitan city Down Under, nearing 4pm and the traffic was picking up.

Then, it happened, although with near religious watch, I lost my train of thoughts (not entirely rare occurrence), allowing my mind to chatter compulsively, and missing the first left exit to Bourke Street. Which was a little bit odd as the GPS says ‘turn to the left’ but, here’s the clincher, the map shows clearly after that little nudge to the left, it suggest an underground road eventually making it’s way to the right. Somehow it didn’t occur to me that it might be possible. An underground tunnel in a city is not entirely strange at all.

Shit, I said. I missed that, and I thought that should be fine. I’ll let the GPS to figure out the new route.

Aafiya with sheepishly sheep, unconvinced that the sheep refused to read the brochure with her
Aafiya with sheepishly sheep, unconvinced that the sheep refused to read the brochure with her

And by this time, Aafiya screamed (oh she’s got to be with me, didn’t she?). Donut should have been doing all the thinking and looking at maps, and driving in front of me. Not only I am not good at maps and not preferring to drive especially in big city (I turned down job offers for God’s sake due to traffic jams at Kuala Lumpur). I hate it with all my guts and it will easily raise my stress level to the max.

Ba-ba baaa.. Bababa!

(I don’t know if it’s really been a minion sound, but Aafiya kept on repeating it seeing a bus encapsulated with those tiny yellow things, so I guess it is). This time she was asking me to join her singing.

“Daddy, jom laa nyanyiiiiiii”

By this time, I realized the mysterious left turn at Bourke Street is the only way to the airport. And I had wasted 15 minutes chasing around my tails. And Donut has been out of sight. She must have been furious!

By now Aafiya had managed to wrestle free from her safety seat. Did I just forgotten to fasten the strap? She went on to grab my hands with her usual persistence imploring me to sing the Hans part of our beautiful “Love is an Open Door” rendition.

Cute, but not now!

I’m about to explode. For one, my hatred of driving in cities and traffic jams was perfectly realized. Law of attraction be damned. Secondly there was thousand of possible scenarios appearing on the background. The extra fines.

What if I get to end up in highways and having no money to pay the toll?

How can I contact Donut as she had no roaming cellphone?

And what if some policemen choose to stopping us as Aafiya has gone rampant at the backseat by now?

For all the continuing pains of the things I disliked as it gone out of control, one thought suddenly soothed me.

It all started with, “what’s the worse that can happen?”

I have been lucky to be able to anchor myself into the fact that mostly, our problems are trivial. Below are the 3 steps you can use to overcome being swallowed by problems.

1. Ask yourself How Bad Can It Be?

I realized a lot of the scenarios playing in my head were purely speculations. The only real consequences were we might be fined if we are turning the rental car late at Mascot. I had managed to steer my way into airport right now. There was also less than ideal fuel level but at this rate, although caught in traffic, we should be able to make it our destination.

Similar situations in life warrant this kind of thinking. If you catch yourself within a thousands of speculations, looking at it objectively might often reveal the true condition of the problems.

2. Realize that most of our problems are trivial

I got to travel to faraway cities. I’m not having the problem of survivability as our Rohingya brothers and sisters in Indian ocean or homeless or suffering the fate of Victor Frankl at Austrian concentration camp during WW1. I don’t have the right to be moody of my problem, I realized.

There are people with bigger life or death issues everyday. As long as we are living with healthy body, most of our problems are trivial that we shouldn’t exaggerate ours too much.

3. Be Thankful and Breathe

The worse that happen would be hundred times better than other problems other people have. Instead of being so fixated upon the challenges and be sad – it’s more appropriate now that you’d be thankful instead. Breath to it. Just breath.

In my situation, the point was this minor setbacks shouldn’t impacted the whole memory about the trip.Slowly, I began to chill a little bit. And before long, find myself rocking ‘Love is an Open Door’ in perfect harmony with Aafiya.

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