In the good old days of yore when I was newly engaged, I got stuck in an awful traffic jam. You know the kind: put it in park, tune into your favorite station, and pull out an emergency stick of gum mangled at the bottom of your purse. It had been a miserable day at work and I wanted nothing so much as to get home and make-out with my fiance. By the look of things, that wouldn't be happening soon.
I was two off ramps away from my exit when the cars ahead of me began inching forward. A song I'd never heard before came on the radio and I was just about to change it when I looked in my rearview mirror. In a blue sedan, a boy no older than twenty was drumming his hands on the steering wheel in time with what I realized was the same beat as the song on my radio. Sure enough, his lips synced up with the lyrics.
I'm sure you've seen people like this kid before. They crank up the tunes, bob their heads, or full on rock out like they're on the dance floor. For me, I'd never really seen anything like it before. In front of a good fifteen cars around him, this guy was movin' and shakin' like he just didn't care. He was bold. He was fearless. He was invincible.
I couldn't help myself. I started grinning, watching him with a strange kind of near-jealousy. Sure, I'd sung in the car before, even belting out a tune or two--when I thought no one was watching. But everyone was watching him. What else were we supposed to do? In a traffic jam like this, my gum was the dinner and he was the show.
Soon, the song ended and traffic picked up and I got off my exit, never knowing what became of that carefree kid on the freeway. But I've never forgotten him. It had been a rotten day and those three and a half minutes of seeing someone else's pure joy? It changed the tide of my day. I came home smiling and feeling like the world wasn't really all that bad.
Truth is, it's helped change the tide of my life, really. Now, whenever I hear a song I love on the radio or iPod, I belt it out and dance like I just don't care. I'm sure it startles people. I'm sure I look like a llama in a full-on epileptic seizure. But you know what? I'm not sorry. I rock out and feel the joy and hope that maybe amid all the crazy stares, there's one person who smiles and their day isn't so bad after all.
So when my kids see me dancing in the kitchen (not nearly so cool looking as those silhouettes in the Apple commercials) and my husband fights to hide a laugh, I'm not sorry. When the trucker next to me considers calling highway patrol, I'm not sorry. And when that infectious joy seeps into my voice and I speak a little more kindly to the young kid passing me a Coke, I'm not sorry.
I remember that traffic jam and I feel bold. I feel fearless. I feel invincible. And if that's not worth dancin' for, what is?