Stranger Traffic

Most of the people I ever encounter are hidden behind their windscreens – sitting behind steering wheels, dashing from lane to lane and engaging in that frustrating automotive ubiquity of second-guessing each other in case any of us loses focus for a moment and does something that proves to be catastrophically stupid. This is how I have come to know my world – as so many signals, gestures, indifferent stares and a blindly repetitive acquiescence to those shared rules and normative manoeuvres upon which our lives all quite viscerally depend.

The experience of travel and varying degrees of comfort, safety or interpersonal privacy is the inverse property and consequence of these artificial mega-environments we now inhabit. We are almost always going somewhere else and even when we arrive there is still a strong feeling of motion, planning, dislocation and alienation. Humanity has become a blur of mechanical movement and neon light.

In this vast and decrepit clockwork factory of transient dissatisfaction, there is a very real sense that our distributed metropolitan homes grow and warp or twist the convoluted radial respiratory road networks that enervate them, folding them all back upon and through themselves in ways that illustrate none of us are important here – it is only by virtue of our transience that we possess any significance at all. We all experience more frequent and intense moments of what is effectively a moving homelessness; an irremediable and yet largely unacknowledged fear that if we ever stop moving for long enough to think about it we might discover that none of us belongs anywhere.

So, we just keep on moving and seek meaning and purpose in journeys that can never provide it. It’s quite a lonely life we all share in this way.

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