City Stress: Crying in the Car

Over the years, my car has not only been my ride, but my office, my changing room, even the place where I grab a nap. Like it or not, much of our lives happen while we're getting where we need to go. But there's something else we do in our cars that we never talk about: we cry.

City living leaves precious few private spaces; if you share a home and a workspace, it's rare to ever be truly alone. A car, with its pod-like feel, can be a refuge. Closing that door after an especially difficult day or a disappointing meeting, the car can feel like a haven, a space where you can finally exhale and let your guard down ever so slightly. Sometimes that tiny release is all it takes for the tears to start flowing. Add to that the meditative nature of driving and a particularly poignant song on the radio, and I'm surprised I make it anywhere with my mascara intact.

And I'm not the only one. I recently pulled up alongside a beautiful, sad woman at an intersection. I might have mistaken the expression on her face for calm as she waited at a red light, except for the fat tears streaming down her stoic profile and dripping off her chin. She looked peaceful, almost happy, and so captivating that I couldn't look away. She didn't notice me watching her and, when the light changed, drove on her way.

Who knows why she was so weepy on that day? Perhaps she got bad news or maybe she was simply taking advantage of some precious solitude while traveling from a crowded office to a chaotic home — clearing some stress to prepare for the next phase of her day. Seeing her private emotion, so raw and open, is an image I'll never forget. In fact, thinking about it now makes me misty. It reminds me that sometimes, the best way to deal with the pressures of life is not to distract myself with more activities as is my habit, but in fact, to do nothing at all. Only then can I find the mental space to address accumulated emotions, to clear the decks and refresh with a good cry. But only if I can find somewhere to do it.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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