Sunday~ October 4, 2009
The other day I was sitting at a stop light, fingers drumming the steering wheel, leg bouncing. The boys were being watched by a neighbor that I was anxious to relieve, and the light seemed extra long. Well, it actually was quite long because it's that light. The light that seems broken, leaving a person to sit in a row of thirty cars, only ten of which will be the lucky ones to make it through the next small chance at conquering the intersection.
The light finally turned green and I inched forward, small jerking movements, attempts at teleporting myself through the sea of bumpers in front of me, hoping hoping hoping c'mon c'mon c'mon I need to make it...
There were still ten cars ahead of me when the light turned red again. UUUGH!
Just moments after we were beckoned to go, we were stopped again.
Well! Just kidding, I said to myself, sighing and settling in for some more wandering thoughts while staring at red. I shut down, zoned out, gave up. Fine, I'm never going to make it.
I laughed at my grumptified self a little then and started to think about how life is a lot like waiting at a stop light. How I'll be chomping at the bit to do something, to change something, to make something happen. I'll be motivated and ambitious and ready, tap-tap-tapping at the gas, revving my engine. I'll see just what I want on the horizon, my hopes will rise with the green light of a seemingly obvious answer, and then...
Oh no, I'm not going to make it. Why are there so many people ahead of me? Why can't I be up there with them? I need to go now!
Anxiety. Impatience. Discontent.
I thought about this again today as I drove the two hours back from my parent's house. We weren't stuck in traffic, we were on the freeway, moving along without a hitch. I thought about how often that's the case in my life, this fast moving pace filled with only small problems like a sticky steering wheel and the annoyance of stopping for gas.
But I still have a tendency to get focused on the times I'm given the signal to wait. I shut down, zone out, give up. So quickly.
He's not sleeping through the night (whine stomp) When will I ever have time for me (fingers drum the steering wheel) When in the world will they sleep past 6 in the morning, I'm so tired (leg bouncing let's go let's go let's go) Look! I think I saw God open a door! (concentrating hard to teleport myself through bumpers) I really want to move, WHY can't we sell our house? (more whining and stomping)
In those times, I'm only thinking about me, how I should be the first one to go when the light turns green, how I should never have to wait.
But today as I drove, though I may have learned the lesson a thousand times, it hit me full force...
There are drivers around me who are truly suffering, they are stuck in a line of traffic much longer than thirty cars at a light that never turns green. I have been in their shoes. I know how it feels, and I know what got me through the worst kind of traffic jams. Other drivers, ones who weren't so self-obsessed that they passed on the right and kept going. They were the kind of drivers that looked out for me, those were the people that got me through. Grace people.
Some of the hurting commuters are in my life and I love them, and now I want (and need) to pull up alongside them, get out of my car, and climb in their passenger seats. Or drive. Or sing. Or tell a funny story. Or just sit. Whatever they need, I want to do it. I want to do what has been done for me. Whatever the cost is to my valuable time, I want to be there, doing.
When I forget myself, I'm not irritated by things like traffic lights. I'm much lighter, with less nail biting and leg bouncing. Suddenly, all those distant open doors and hopes off on the horizon are right there with me, in a much better form than I'd imagined.
It's good, getting what you needed instead of what you thought you wanted, because you gave of yourself.
(photos courtesy of flickr)