If you live in an area of the world where car use is not prevalent, then I apologise in advance. This article may not ring many bells with you.
This morning I was driving through Sheffield. It was rush hour, so there was a lot of traffic about. I had a tape of Cat Stevens playing loudly on the stereo and I was singing along with abandon. There was a bit of congestion, what some might call a 'jam'. I glanced over and saw another driver banging on his steering wheel in frustration. I could not hear him, but could make out that he was shouting out loud at the situation.
There was a quite stark contrast in our responses to the situation, but that is not what I want to write about. I want to suggest that both of us were expressing repressed emotions. Both of us were expressing things in a way that we would not normally have been had we not been contained alone within a little box.
Why, as adults, do we not shout out loud and stamp our feet when we get angry? Why am I too shy to sing at the top of my voice when I am standing at the bus stop or walking along the street?
It is the same answer for both. We are conditioned to repress this natural expression. We are conditioned to put on a fake mask and keep quiet. I watch my young daughters and regularly see them shouting and crying and stamping. It is a release for them. Once it is over then the emotion is spent, done, and they just carry on with their day. I also watch as they have no problem bursting into song for no reason in front of everyone. They have no problem wandering around naked. They have no problem pretending to be a cat for a while just for the hell of it. They have no problem exuberantly expressing a full range of emotion from one end of the spectrum to the other.
They are authentic. They are genuine. No masks. No etiquette. No pretences. This is really wonderful to behold. Sadly, society gradually crushes it out of most children.
And for what? I may be wrong, but I am guessing that most of you reading this would simply love to return to that simple innocence. We have all made this agreement to be false and fake with each other and none of us even knows why. None of us even wants to do it!
Next time you are alone in your car, watch your behaviour. If it is in any way markedly different from how you would behave without the metal and glass security barrier, then those are things that you have been repressing. Maybe you are getting angry. Maybe you are farting out loud. Maybe you are singing your heart out. Maybe you are picking your nose. Just watch for a few moments and you will see people doing this one all around!
Is all this repression benefiting anyone? What is the point of everyone going around being so utterly unnatural?
I want to leave you with a little phrase that I heard a young child say the other day.
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