Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

You know me; I’m like the king of metaphors. I use them like a funeral home uses Kleenex, like a takeout sushi restaurant uses disposable chopsticks. I use them like.. well, I use metaphors like I use similes, but you know what I’m talking about.

The point is, I like metaphors. So when I was sitting on this bus just now and a metaphor suddenly hit me hard out of nowhere like a headlight-less bus full of ninjas, I was pretty darn excited, let me tell you.

No, really. Let me tell you.

You see, your life is a bus. It is. And you are on that bus right now, your life bus. But, and here’s the really important bit: you are not the driver. You just think you are.

When you take the bus, you do it because you want to get to X; the bus is going to X; and so you feel like you are in charge of making yourself go to X. But you aren’t. The driver is.

And if you have a good driver, you will get there without incident. Most drivers are good. Or good enough. They might be severe. Or new and uncertain. But they do the job and you arrive and you don’t think much of it.

I’ve been in buses, though, that got lost. Yes, lost. Or that ran behind schedule. And then decided not to pick up any more passengers or stop in order to make up time. Which isn’t good bus driver behavior. And when that happens to your life, it makes people think your life is out of control or lost or on the wrong road. But really.. it’s just not under the control of a good driver.

So not every driver is good. But who are these drivers? Am I trying to talk about gods, kismet, (a or the) God? Your own lizard brain trying to pass on its alleles? Where are you taking this metaphor, Trav? Don’t worry.. we’ll get there.

Yes, I’m talking all these, but also more. Sometimes the driver is addiction. Or pride. Or habit. Sometimes the driver is someone else’s needs, or expectations.

Sometimes the driver is anger or hope. And the thing is, we don’t get to drive the bus .. but we get to choose the driver. We get to put something in that seat. It’s hard work to change a driver, but it happens. So choose that driver well, and protect a good driver.

Metaphor continuing… the driver is never luck or chance or a random event… Luck is what happens outside the bus, not what drives it.

Chance can have a big effect on the bus. It can delay it, derail it, destroy it. It can guide it or rescue it. Mostly, though, random events tend to be bad for the bus. Just because there are more bad random things than good ones.

Now, on this bus, are the people in your life. (they Are on their own buses, too, but lets not go all “Inception” here, ok?)

And you have them on your bus for a while, but you don’t control where they get on or get off.  And you sit next to some of them and further away from others.  And for a lot of your life, there’s someone sitting beside you—next to you.  That’s how most people sit. On a few buses, there are 3 seats across, or single seats down in front, and some people sit there, but most people sit with a partner, and talk to the people near them.

You can have a big bus or a small one, but you can’t fit more people on the bus than a certain number.  If it’s full, no one can get on.  If it’s empty, people don’t talk to each other. You should fill your bus comfortably, not overfull, not empty, regardless of how big your bus is.

And what happens is, as your life goes along from the beginning of your route to the end, is your bus starts off empty, with people who live near the end of the route, and then it fills up and changes as it goes through different neighbourhoods: childhood, school, work, family building. And it starts to empty as people get off, and if you don’t keep it full, it gets emptier and emptier. As it approaches the end of the route, there are fewer people left, unless you did a good job of filling it.

Some buses are party buses. Some are shuttle buses. Some are luxury buses and some are custom remodels and some are run down and spitting fumes but full of spirit.  Some buses never leave town, just go around and around and around.  Other buses go across the country, cross borders, and a few buses belong to bands or teams and go wherever they want to go, never settling in one place for too long.

=-=-=

However, this is the best part of the metaphor (and I have stretched this metaphor like silly putty at this point, but bear with me): Imagine that you are sitting in a window seat of this bus, your life, and you’re looking out the window.

If you try to look straight ahead, you can’t see very well. Things are squished, and hard to focus on, and they rush towards you, get large, then disappear past your vision almost as soon as they appear. If you focus entirely on your future, you don’t get a very good perspective on things, and you actually don’t see much.

If you look back; same thing. You suddenly have big interesting objects to look at, but just their back side, and they dwindle and shrink and eventually disappear and leave you wondering what they were and where they went.

But if you look directly out, at where you are now, not just the side of the road but the horizon, you see the view, the wilderness, the city, the present moment, all slowly shifting with parallax effect. You see a calmer now, you understand the place you’re at, and you get a sense of where you’re going and where you’ve been, but you don’t need to worry about that; it’ll arrive momentarily, and then you’ll get a chance to look at it.

Yes, if your life is a bus, you’d do best to know where the bus is going but not spend all your time straining to see it before you get there. It’ll get there, assuming you have a good driver, as I said. Enjoy the ride, and take in the view, and let what’s past stay in the past.

=-=-=

Because the final truth is, the bus is just a vehicle.  Your life is just a shell.  And what happens on that bus depends entirely on who you fill the bus with, and who the driver is.  With a good driver, you can have some amazing adventures, and with a good set of passengers, the ride can be as joyful as you can imagine.

All aboard.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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