We’ve all had this moment right?
You’re on a mission.
Driving, cycling, moving rapidly on foot. Every second is precious, so precious you seem to find need to check your watch constantly in case it’s skipped a second.
Then you come to THE moment. When you are full speed towards an intersection and the light shifts from green to orange.
That unmistakable signal: SLOW DOWN.
Do you stop? Or is it worth dashing across?
There is a mother’s voice inside us. The voice that guides us to err on the side of caution. The kind voice that will offer support to even our poorest efforts. This voice says ‘Stop!’
The complication is, there is also a teenager within us that is not listening. One who is daring, who likes to do the opposite, purely in the spirit of rebellion. This one says ‘Hell NO am I waiting for the red light, I’ve got places to get to. Go go go!’
Which voice wins?
Sometimes, the voices battle inside us for an excruciatingly expanded millisecond, and by the time we’re veering towards one choice, it’s almost too late to follow either decision. We screech to a halt, way past the white lines, or shoot across the intersection just as the light turns red.
Either way, it's a mixed bag of remorse and triumph.
If this sounds familiar, you are certainly not alone. And while this may seem a small matter, it matters.
Because how we make the small decisions is often how we make the big choices.
Indecisiveness is a common ailment in this choice-saturated world. Even ordering a coffee comes with a tribe of options (guilty - I confess I am one of those soy-latte-extra-hot-with-cinnamon types). When there are too many options, our brains struggle to cope.
It can all feel too much, especially when we are so focused on getting somewhere on our list of places to be or things to do, that we forget why we’re doing it all in the first place.
This was certainly something I experienced regularly.
So I made one small but significant decision: I stopped running the red light.
Instead of having a harrowing in-between moment, I consciously prepared to stop each time I anticipated a potential orange light. Instead of twitching in waiting for the green glow, I closed my eyes and took the time to take a deep breath. Or three.
It’s amazing what happens when you feel back into your body.
The expansion of ribs, belly, chest; the sensation of hips sinking into cushioned seat, the broadening of heart space and shoulders. Sometimes a big inhale and a deep sigh to release tension.
The red traffic light became a pit-stop for reconnecting to where I am, what I am doing, and what experiencing this moment feels like. It forced me to stop, just for that moment, and slow down time. Recalibrate. Prepare.
And then, go.
Over time, I found myself more organised, leaving the house a few minutes earlier to account for potential red lights. I looked forward to the chance to pause, take in the experience internally, and around me. It was a moment to notice the patterns of the sky, the dance of tree branches, the tinkly paws of tiny dogs walking their owners.
My tip is to observe the people in cars - it’s so curious what you see people do in the perceived privacy of their vehicles! Sometimes I even smile and wave to the drivers or passengers beside me, but in a rather suspicious-minded world, I think that just came across creepy...
Regardless of what you choose to do, try allowing for the pause. Practice letting go of frustration - it only arises if you choose to perceive a pause as a hindrance instead of an opportunity, to simply be.
Over time, you might discover more than you anticipated. And at the very least, you can save yourself the potential of a ghastly traffic fine, or worse, a collision.
Neither of which will save you any time at all.
Let’s stay aware for our journeys. Take breaks. And arrive with presence, wherever you land today.