I get irritated at stoplights. Silly, right? It is as if I expect the light to see my displeasure and react accordingly as I chant “turn, turn, turn” when approaching a red-light. Or hopefully, the light will take it personally and next time won’t turn red when I am coming to the intersection (how DARE it turn red?!). Or maybe the local department of transportation will see a video of my red-light anguish, have pity on my soul, and change the car detection algorithms (or wiring).
Stoplights have been planted for a purpose.
- To slow us down, intentionally, and help control traffic flow and congestion.
- To help us impatient humans to not run into each other.
- To supply a means to allow people from all directions (and walks of life) to take a turn in driving through the intersection.
- To allow pedestrians and cyclists enough time to cross the street without fearing for their lives.
Stoplights also force us to take a break in our mad rush down the road; perhaps to look around and see who is next to us, who is smiling, who is frowning, who is car dancing, and who is playing music so loud only someone in the next county (parish) cannot hear it. They give us a moment to look at our surroundings: the storefronts, people, homes, businesses, sky, and other influences on our environment. They give a gentle reminder that there are others in the world besides us (drivers, homeless, emergency workers, transportation drivers, walkers, runners).
They can also make available a moment to reflect on the good things that happened earlier in the day or learn from the mistakes and heartaches met along the road of life. They can give us a moment of solitude to calm down and breath even though road rage may rear its all-to-ugly head and strike us all too easily.
And they come with two added benefits: one to tell us when to go (act, decide, do, step on the gas) and one to caution us (watch out, be careful, look all ways) to be ready not only for the red-light but also for decisions in life, for preconceptions, and for much needed change.
We usually ascribe stoplights in order as green (GO), yellow/amber/orange (CAUTION), then red (STOP) but reality begs us to consider stopping for a moment to reflect (red), cautiously begin changes (yellow), and then to finally act (green). We trust others will remain in their lanes and follow the light sequence, and even when we are told to GO, it behooves us to look all ways as intersections are crossed.
Because we all get distracted and miss the signs right in front of our noses.
So, as stoplights force us to take a break in our daily drives, let’s use our time there wisely instead of drumming on the steering wheel impatiently waiting for green to appear.