I was talking to this guy the other day, and he was complaining about all of the cars honking their horns. You see, I live in the center of town in my dream location just above a Starbucks and next to a gym, not that I go to either one, but the dream is there. The only real problem is that it’s not too far from the street, and I can hear all of the cars honking their damned horns all of the time. I could yell out the window at each and every one of them, but that would do nothing because they would never learn because there are so many of them. It’s like standing under a huge thunder shower. You can warm up one drop of rain, but so many follow that you eventually get cold. I could teach one driver that it’s not that polite to lean on their horn for ten minutes at nine o’clock in the morning, but that driver would be followed by another one and that one by yet another one. So you see, I had to figure out another way to avoid being waken up or more importantly to keep from being so frustrated. One day, when I was at a friend’s house on the mountainside, he mentioned to me how pleasant it was to hear the birds every morning. That was it! I could pretend that the car horns were some sort of bird, or rather some sort of screaming pterodactyl, and it wouldn’t bother me as much. It would actually somehow relieve me or intrigue me to think that some kind of ancient dinosaur was flying outside of my window. It seems like a stupid trick, but it actually works.
It’s like how I’ve convinced myself that the city has a rule about the nighttime driving. As long as it’s past eleven o’clock at night, the drivers have the right to go through a red light. Of course there is no such rule, but I’ve told myself that there is, and now whenever a taxi flies through a red light at an intersection, I don’t get angry anymore. I’ve also done the same thing when translating Chinese to English. Rather than translating “suo you de lao wai” into “all foreigners”, I’ve changed it to “some of the foreigners I’ve met”. Again, I’ve convinced myself that the latter is a much better translation than the former. Some say that I’m only fooling myself, but I say that I’m making my life easier. Ignorance? Bliss? I would rather go out in the rain with an umbrella than without one. If you can’t stop the rain, why not avoid it? I used to have a roommate that had this sign above our door: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” I used to think that this was apathetic. Nowadays, thank Buddha, I care to differ.
By Tim Hoerle