As someone who has to drive a fair amount between work and home (which are on opposite sides of Portland), I have a fair bit of time to reflect upon the problems of traffic. Among those problems is the fact that there are not very many good east-west roads through the city, particularly as far as highways are concerned. Between the Banfield Highway (the western section of I-84, which ends near downtown Portland), and the Sunset Highway (which is the western section of US 26 going west from downtown Portland), there is one slightly fragmentary way to go east and west from different sides of the city of Portland without red lights (aside from the MAX line). Of course, with a big city, it is an extremely difficult matter to create roads after one has a need for them. Infrastructure tends to require prior thought or massive expenses.
I am not a person who finds it an easy matter to stop, or to enjoy remaining still. For all of my days (even up to now) I have always been a fidget, unable to sit completely still or keep completely silent. At times these tendencies have brought a great deal of annoyance or irritation to myself and to others, and even put me in some danger. For a variety of reasons, whenever I am not able to move I tend to feel trapped, and feel a great deal of stress and anxiety. Unsurprisingly, traffic presents these problems in a particularly dangerous form, as there is a lot of stopping and going, a lot of people around in a stressful situation already but where the absence of space tends to make me even more anxious and uncomfortable from the situation itself, regardless of the confidence I have in my own abilities to drive safely.
Quite possibly the reason I have never considered myself a true city person is the fact that my need for space and distance has tended to make the crowded nature of many cities to be extremely problematic. Far from feeding off of the energy of so many random strangers packed into such a small space all desiring to go as fast as they can, I tend to be rather panicky without enough room to breathe and enough space for myself to feel safe from a dangerous world. This is not to say that I have loved the country, as I have found rural life to be fairly lonely and remote, apart from those times I have spent with close friends, where I do not find it to be so lonesome. I suspect with the right company and a large and loving enough family, life in the country would be enjoyable, as long as I was close enough to high culture and art to find my creativity to be respected and appreciated. This was not the case in my childhood, though, where my bookish and artistic tendencies led my erstwhile neighbors and even family members to look askance at me.
In other ways I find it hard to stop for a minute. Although I am not a particularly avaricious person, nor particularly materialistic, I am not someone who tends to be satisfied with periods of stasis where there is no advancement. It is not the length or difficulty of a particular goal or aspiration that bothers me as much as those fallow periods where there is no growth, no improvement, and where I fear I am trapped as things are with no hope of progress or at reaching where I want to go. This is not entirely just or fair of me to think that way, but I certainly do not pretend that I am a person of pure rationality. I know myself well enough to have no such pretensions. As one of my favorite bands once sang, “And if I stop for a minute, I think about things I really don’t want to know.” Many of us are driven by deep and unpleasant matters, and the knowledge that rest forces upon us the need for us to seek freedom from the burdens that so often overwhelm us. For the freedom that we seek allows us to rest in peace in small amounts here and there, before we do so for a much more extended period, a rest that none of us can escape who are born of flesh.