Aug 31

From Prisons on the Road to Ants Marching….

Traffic congestion has been a concern for decades in many countries. Even with infrastructure improvements made in major cities, highway and road traffic problems are chronic in some major metro areas. In the U.S. New York and Los Angeles are notorious for their traffic headaches. Many of my Chinese students tell me of traffic congestion problems in their big cities. Given the density of population in China, I can only imagine what a nightmare it could be. One good thing in the U.S. is that air pollution levels have steadily decreased since the passage of legislation that set strict limits on carbon emissions from factories and automobiles.

This weekend in the U.S. is the national holiday celebrating the organized Labor Movement and known as Labor Day. For most Americans it has little significance other than the official end of the summer beach and boating season. Many families will travel to the ocean shore or to family picnics and BBQs. Inevitably, millions will sit in traffic jams going to and coming back from their end of summer celebrations. I thought this next set of song lyrics were fitting.

Prisons on the Road

by John Mayall

Every street is choking
Looks like too much traffic on the road
No fun in driving
You wait in line forever just to go
Heavy roar of engines
Sitting in your prisons on the road

Everybody’s rushing
Is it so important to be so
Where’s it going to lead to

If all the rushing leads to moving slow
Heavy roar of engines
Sitting in your prisons on the road

Poison from your engine
Merges with the air we’ve got to breathe
Look at that congestion
Don’t it make you want to pack and leave
Thoughts you’ve been having
Sitting in your prisons on the road

Dave Mathews Band

Ants Marching

By D. Mathews

He wakes up in the morning
Does his teeth bite to eat and he’s rolling
Never changes a thing
The week ends the week begins
She thinks, we look at each other
Wondering what the other is thinking
But we never say a thing
These crimes between us grow deeper
Goes to visit his mommy
She feeds him well his concerns
He forgets them
And remembers being small
Playing under the table and dreaming
Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die
Driving in on this highway
All these cars and upon the sidewalk
People in every direction
No words exchanged
No time to exchange them
And all the little ants are marching
Red and black antennas waving
They all do it the same
They all do it the same way
Candyman tempting the thoughts of a
Sweet tooth tortured by the weight loss
Program cutting the corners
Loose end, loose end, cut, cut
On the fence, could not to offend
Cut, cut, cut, cut
Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die


The underlying question presented by each of the following sentiments; ” sitting in our prisons on the road” and “ants marching…all doing it the same way”….no words exchanged, no time to exchange them!”, is it necessary to be trapped in a rut of the same way over and over? Or, is it possible to find a way out of that trap?

The answer in my mind; Develop an idea that allows you to build your own way of marketing your very special skill set. Do this in such a way as to avoid the annoying, degrading, energy-wasting activities that many people are trapped into when they work for the man. If you love your work, that’s great! You are a lucky person if you have found a career path that suites your personality and the lifestyle you wish to live. Sadly, many people remain chained to the drudgery of a job they do not love and for them there must be a way out. Change starts with an idea and must be followed-through with research and hard work to succeed, but there is a way to break the chains. You only need to find it. In some cases, a person may need to work for many years in their chosen field before reaching a point where you may expect a certain level of autonomy and independence.

The work from home movement has been a growing job sector for several decades. Working from home offers many benefits, not the least of which is no traffic jams on your commute to work!

Many firms are now encouraging their staff to do a certain amount of their work by Telecommuting – that is, to come to the office for a limited number of days or hours each week and take the rest of your work home to work on at your own pace.

Consulting is a terrific option for retirees and others with long years of experience in their chosen field. Becoming a consultant may be a great way to break out of the daily hum-drum and find a new direction in your career.

Teaching works for many folks. I enjoy the teaching that I do and have found it to be rewarding in many ways. Working from home also permits me to care for my elderly parent and not worry about what is happening while I am away from the house.

Many kinds of free-lance work arrangements are available in your area of expertise. The issue is a matter of setting priorities in your life and pursuing a rational path to achieve those priorities. I encourage anyone to seek the path less traveled and fulfill your dreams.


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    • Lara He on September 9, 2014 at 9:59 am
    • Reply

    Nice article and seems I haven’t been here for a while. Quite busy with my work but one good thing is I don’t have overtime. I can finsih all my tasks within the working hours mostly. For me, I like asking each of my team members whether they like their jobs. As it’s the first year since they work here so all of them said they like the job and the team. Hopefully what they said is the real thoughts. But I am wondering if 2 years or 3 years later, what will happen and what will they think about the job…… So far I like my Job, I already passed the most difficult period in my current role and everything become more smooth meanwhile still has some chanllenges which make the job more interesting. Hope everyone can find the Job they are interested in.

    Last night, I watched a lovely Movie which I think is the Senior Age Version. “Everything will be alright in the end… if it’s not alright then it’s not the end”. So never stop finding what we love.:)

    1. Nice comment, Lara!
      Thanks for returning to read some more. I note that your writing skills are improving.
      I see only a couple of minor errors in this thoughtful paragraph. We can talk about them in the next lesson.

      I especially like the part of the quote you shared; …”if it’s not alright then it’s not the end.” And, yes, I encourage everyone to continue to search until you find what you love to do.

    • Infinity on September 13, 2014 at 9:33 am
    • Reply

    It didn’t surprise me when i found you have so many interesting students here. from the comments they left here, they are amazing and hope one day i will be as great as them! Are you proud of your students?

    1. I am proud of my students! Many of them have made remarkable progress over time.

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