September 26, 2013

Red Light. Green Light.

Our five-minute-won’t-be-late-for-school-just-yet window was fast closing while I scrambled around the kitchen trying to remember whatever it was that I’d be sure to forget once we were on the road.

Soon, we were on the road. Or at least in the alley on our way to the road when I realized the road was being tarred. Tarred to the right. Road tarred to the left. I couldn’t take the turn I wanted in either direction, so we coasted down one alley and then the next and then the next looking for an open, untarred road.

Finally we made it to the thoroughfare and it was all smooth sailing until…

…the railroad crossing.

More precisely, the railroad crossing being crossed by a train two intersections ahead. I panicked slightly and dimmed the dashboard lights so Georgia couldn’t obsess about the clock ticking down the minutes to her being tardy.

Traffic had backed up from the railroad crossing intersection to ours, but I could see far enough ahead to tell that the train had passed through. Now, those cars waited for their red light to change green.

In the meantime, our red light blinked green. I did the math and figured by the time we reached the dreaded railroad intersection, that light would be green too!

Only no one moved. It was weird. The light was green as an Irish meadow and yet no one moved. Not even one horn honked. It seemed as if time was standing still, and a blanket of “Meh” had enveloped everyone.

Not caring how crazy I sounded, I started talking to the people in the cars that time forgot at the green light:
That’s not your red light!
Move forward!
Ever have something fall out of your mouth reflexively, and soon as it meets the air and gathers enough vibration to qualify as a sound and then words that you realize
the falling,
the vibration,
the sound
…was meant for you?

Listen, I’m a worrier -- a chronic worrier. I worry that a proposal will get turned down; then if it results in a grant, I worry that I won’t be able to meet expectations of writing another winning proposal. I worry that my daughter’s not involved in enough activities, then I worry that maybe she’s got too much on her plate. I worry about financial smooth-sailing; yet when things are relatively balanced, I worry that one or both of us will lose our jobs. I worry about how sad Charley-the-Shih-Tzu-Poo looks each day when we leave him home alone.

I worry.

So, as soon I heard myself say “That’s not your red light! Move forward!” I realized that message wasn’t so much for the stalled cars as it was for me:

Worrying about so much so often is about as logical as a line of cars sitting at a green light. It’s obeying a red light at an intersection that isn’t even mine in the first place. It blinds me to the green light that’s right in my face, stops forward motion
…and steals joy that the moment brings.

Guess it’s time to stop looking so far ahead and start paying closer attention to the signals right in front of my face, huh?


  1. "Guess it’s time to stop looking so far ahead and start paying closer attention to the signals right in front of my face, huh?"

    Process, not an event - marathon, not a sprint, patience - use it or lose it? Huh? Did *I* just type that?

    Making me giggle here, Rochelle :)

    1. The race isn't given to the swift...or in my case, "the slow on the uptake."

      ...and yes you did just type that.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Rick. :)