A 30 something bus driver of the Santa Monica City bus which took me from Los Angeles Airport to Santa Monica was lamenting to a high school student passenger, “You know, I never went to college, if I only knew then what I know now, who knows where I would be now.” I laughed to myself. Not out of spite, but out of realisation that we always tend to justify our choices or lack thereof by blaming, complaining or finding excuses for accepting our reality and not doing anything to change it.
If I only knew then what I know now… What is the difference between then and now? The only moment we have any influence over is the now. The past is only as powerful as long as we perpetuate it, and allow it to hold sway over us. Who knows where I would be now? Who knows indeed? If we don’t know where we want to be, then who does? Based on the driver’s attitude towards his job one would assume that driving a bus for a living was not a pleasant activity. And yet when I boarded the Big Blue Bus as they call it, he was all smiles and seemed to be enjoying talking to his passengers. He even proudly allowed me to ride for free because I didn’t have $1 for the fare. That was actually very nice of him. Before the driver spoke to the student he seemed a happy man to me. A man who was doing what he liked.
However, the past is to blame. The past is to blame for the fact that even today we don’t know where we want to be. Or we know, but we are afraid to say it. It is human to be afraid of changes and discomfort they inevitably imply. Whatever our reality is, we are ultimately responsible for the way things are. Changes of any kind are always disruptive to our habitual behaviours and to the level of comfort by which we measure our satisfaction with life. We can be dissatisfied with our lives, but we will irrationally cling to the very roots of dissatisfaction, just to avoid the pain of taking action. What makes us unhappy is usually so ingrained in our perception of our circumstances and who we are that paradoxically we love to love what we hate.
“This is your stop, mate!” said the driver, alluding to my Australian accent. I woke up from my daydream about the past, the present and the future, gave my new friend a pat on the back, thanked him for the ride, and wended my way down to Santa Monica pier. It was a beautiful sunny day.