Bus Metaphors

Friday, November 14, 2014

I’m spending a lot of time on the bus these days. And this has been making me think about some of my favorite bus metaphors.

My favorite of course is the Ken Kesey quote from Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test: You’re either on the bus or off the bus.

My second favorite is the great bus metaphor that the late Kenyan scientist and environmental activist Wangari Maathai outlined in a speech I heard her give in 2009. She talked about how to know when the approach you’re taking isn’t right — what happens when you are not on the right bus.

I think in response to a conversation I had with a friend about that bus metaphor (though I don’t remember the details right now), my friend sent me a link to a piece by photographer Arno Rafael Minkkinen that describes his Helsinki Bus Station Theory.

I re-read the Minkkinen piece the other day and was struck by the phrase, “We find out what we will do by knowing what we will not do.”

Life is a process of elimination.

If you are lucky, you get to something you want to do before having to go through too many things that you will not do.

If you’re not lucky, you get stuck doing something for a very long time that you really don’t want to do at all. And maybe you eventually get to something you do want to do, and maybe you just watch a lot of tv.

We find out what we will do by knowing what we will not do.

2 Responses to “Bus Metaphors”

  1. tommfranklin Says:

    My wife and her daughter have, for years, referred to any place they’ve lived that wasn’t truly a home as a bus station. As in, another bus station along the way.

    The TTA tends to put the newest buses on the express routes. These are buses with reclining bucket seats and overhead air and lights. As a long-legged person I’ve found there are exactly four good seats on those buses that are conducive to napping.

    And on some of those buses, one of those comfy seats is the end of a leaking drainspout when it rains.

    I think there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. I think.

  2. lessisenough Says:

    Reclining seats? I don’t think any of the buses I’ve been on have reclining seats.

    The 405 buses are nicer than the RSX buses, but the RSX is a much shorter ride so it doesn’t really matter. In fact the RSX is such a short ride that I can sit and stare out the window the whole time and not feel like I’m wasting a Valuable Opportunity to Do Something. The 400 is long enough that you actually can Do Something. No staring out the window on that one.

    The best leg room is in the seats just up the stairs. I try to grab a seat there if I can so as not to have to try to figure out how to get my legs and my pannier and my bookbag all in the same space.


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