Chen Du has a Master’s Degree in Biophysics from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, SUNY at Buffalo and another in Radio Physics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In the United States, her essay has been published by The Dead Mule and Hamline University English Department. Find her online at ofsea.com.
Artwork by Edward Michael Supranowicz
Pick the Right Bus
Having ridden to work in a bus more than three hundred times over the past year, I have found that the Route 35 bus, which arrives on the west side of the roundabout in front of the South Gate, a famous tourist attraction in the city, could save me more time than the Route 800 bus, which arrives on the east side of the roundabout. It is because the Route 800 bus needs to pass two passenger-controlled traffic lights, between the east side and the west side of the roundabout. So every morning around 8:10 a.m., I purposely miss the Route 800 bus and wait for the Route 35, which always comes about a dozen seconds later than the other bus. Even though I get on the later bus, I could potentially arrive at the roundabout earlier.
In our life, we have waited for buses, taxis, trains and flights. During these processes, there are things we can control. For example, we can control when, where and how to wait. Nevertheless, there are also things we cannot control. These things include: when and which vehicle will arrive. The more experience we have in this regard, the more possible it is for us to develop strategies. For example, we can plan whether or not to board when a bus arrives and which bus to take.
Similarly, in our life, we have waited for all kinds of things to happen, such as, exams and graduations, work and receiving awards, meeting people and finding love. Some of the things we await arrive to us on time, some come to us late, and some may never happen. Just like waiting for a bus, there are situations we can control, and there are also instances we cannot control. In addition, we not only wait for those things to happen, but also wait for the right things to happen. Indeed, taking a bus is totally different from taking the right bus. It seems like that the more a thing is determined by the self, the more easily one can succeed in finding the right “bus”. It is also true that the more experience one has, in regards to waiting for and picking the right “bus”, it is easier for him or her to develop a strategy and succeed in picking the right “bus”.
It turns out that this strategy of mine doesn’t always work. Once, after I embarked on the Route 800 bus without the patience to wait for the Route 35 bus, it ran towards the green traffic light happily and passed it triumphantly. Meanwhile, I saw from the rear window of the bus that the Route 35 bus, which was following, was stopped by the traffic light that had turned red. Then, the traffic on the rest of the road was pretty good, and the Route 800 bus passed the two passenger-controlled traffic lights without having to stop. As a result, I arrived at the roundabout earlier than if I took the Route 35 bus.
Indeed, experience is the best teacher; nonetheless, people can make the same choices or mistakes again and again. This is especially when there are limited experiences to learn from. In addition, even if one can make the best decision, by carefully comparing the pros and cons of different choices, unexpected things do happen. For example, traffic can be affected by a national holiday, which can directly influence the number of passengers at the two passenger-controlled intersections or the number of private cars on the road.
We then enrich our experiences, calculate our chances, adjust our strategies and try to make a smarter choice each time. Even so, I sometimes still cannot predict whether the Route 35 bus or the Route 800 bus will arrive at the roundabout first as emergencies do happen. For example, very occasionally the bus I take may malfunction and stop half way to the roundabout. For the first time, I profoundly realize how life is composed of a myriad of journeys. We prepare for a journey, take the trip either willingly or unwillingly, rush towards a specific destination, but we are not 100% sure whether or not we have chosen the right path. Eventually we arrive at our destination either in time or late, either successfully or in vein. It is even possible that we take the wrong trip and arrive at a different destination.
Truly, all things are possible. We cannot pick the right bus always, but we can try, learn, grow, accept and wait…
From the Editor:
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By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7
32 pages, published 1/15/2022