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I hate getting stuck in traffic. I hate being rendered physically useless and waiting for the gridlock to just magically disappear. I tap my feet, I dribble my fingers, I look left and right only to find vehicles in a standstill, and fellow commuters wondering, imagining, hoping the cars finally moves, the surroundings slowly blur; praying some sort of magic or device will take them home in a second.

All that waiting makes one hungry for some motion, even if it only means an inch crawled along EDSA.

But every now and then the daily trap becomes my solace. In the standstill, the ambient noises are silenced. Motionlessness turns the bus into a hollow cave where the smallest of sounds coming from within echo, the tick-tock of interior life ricochet and reverberate. There are details—caricatures of co-passengers, the mumbling of technology— and there are distractions. But their sounds drown the moment the sea of personal thoughts rush in.

It is during these moments that I remember what I have forgotten: memories which may have slipped as my mind made room for new ideas; words left untilled in the rural plains of time, abandoned in the pursuit of the urban ruminations offered by reality; sentiments and affections for people and places, objects and points in time; myself at its rawest and clearest I can see the imprints of experience, almost like bas relief.

In the wait, I find the serenity which eludes me day in and day out. It’s the peace which comes once you overcome the fear of being left with your own thoughts. The “you” is often displaced by the “them”, the “he”, the “she”, the “us”, that to finally hear your own voice in the gridlock’s cathartic stillness takes some getting used to. Alone and surrounded by men and women immersed in the fading day’s sorrow, I confront my own impatience, my pain, anxiety, and wistfulness: all symptoms of being alive.

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