This I Believe

Nina - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on January 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Highway Hakuna Matata

“Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase

Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze

It means no worries for the rest of your days

It’s our problem-free philosophy

Hakuna Matata!”

I believe in the philosophy of Hakuna Matata. Translated from Swahili as “no worries,” this problem-free outlook kept me awake, alive, and even somewhat optimistic while slouched behind the wheel on the verge of tears.

At two in the morning, after driving on winding roads for over eleven hours with four other people in a cramped two-door car, my friends and I reached the final stretch of our road trip. Then I saw it: a sign that blared “Const. on Bridge: Use Alt. Rt.” I couldn’t believe it! I’d managed to drive for eleven hours without hitting traffic and now, at two in the morning and twenty miles from the destination, I hit a three-lane standstill!

I was angry. And sleep deprived. A minute from screaming at the top of my lungs. Yet I knew if was going to make it through the next couple hours I’d need to find a way to stay awake and take my mind off the road. I remembered my Ipod.

The Disney playlist. Of course! My friends had always made fun of my obsession with Disney music, but I didn’t care. Ever since I was a kid I’d loved it. I clicked the round button and “Prince Ali” from Aladdin started blasting through the speakers of my Honda. “He’s got ninety-five white Persian monkeys (He’s got the monkeys, lets see the monkeys!).”

I began belting out the song to entertain my fellow jail mates in the traffic prison. After three minutes the song ended but I was only just beginning. I opened the sunroof and climbed through, exposing at least forty cars to my annoyingly loud rendition of “Hakuna Matata.” “WHAT A WONDERFUL PHRASE!” I screamed to downtown San Francisco. Sure, singing to Disney music in a traffic jam was a little weird, but it was either do that and have fun or slouch behind the wheel like every other disgruntled driver. I chose the sunroof. My friends were quick to follow. Within four minutes the entire car was singing The Lion King.

The singing lead to an animated discussion of childhood memories. I became so focused on telling my friends about the time I cut off the hair on my stuffed pet Raja that I barely noticed the traffic anymore. Lost in my childhood and Disney music, the cramped car and late night hour became a kind of fun adventure. “Maybe there is something to ‘Hakuna Matata,’” I thought. “Maybe, with the right mindset, any jam (traffic or otherwise) can become an adventure. Maybe a problem free-philosophy isn’t about not having any problems, but rather turning those problems into adventures.”

I don’t know if it was the music or the lack of sleep but I accepted my fate in the traffic. In fact, I did more than accept it: I sang along to it.