Sunday, December 13, 2009

Traffic lights and wisdom behind the WAIT

Do you hate waiting at traffic lights? I think so if you are like most people. But, as mature people, we also understand that without traffic lights, it is not possible for many streets to cross each other and not possible to manage the traffic at all. So, for the greater good, authorities make us wait for our turn to cross the street and so on. This logic seems simple. Right?

But, why does this not occur to us when we have to wait at life's traffic signals? I am sure you have run into some or the other kind of waits in life too. Something is stalled at work. Things are not moving. You are frustrated. You wonder why things are not moving at the rate they should be moving. Why aren't people warming up to your ideas and embracing them? Why are not things happening, boss? You lament.

Think that you are at life's some traffic signal. You are waiting for your turn. You are not the center of this universe. There are many other things than trivial things you are worried about. You have to wait for your turn to get green light and drive on.

This perspective helps when things do not go  our way. So, what we do? Borrow the analogy from what we do while waiting at traffic lights. Be engaged. Watch the scenery around. Listen to good music. Listen to useful audio books. Do something to keep you productively occupied. But, always stay focused on the road. The moment light turns to green, you want to zip forward. So, do not get distracted.

Use the same principles when you get stuck at traffic lights of life too. Sometimes wait at a life's traffic lights seems way too long. Things do not move at all in some cases for years in a row. It can be very painful without having a bigger perspective. Know that you and your petty desires are as inconsequential as a spec of dust in the grand scheme of things. You can not and will not get any special treatment. You got to wait. So, all you can do is to make the wait a fun one and a beneficial one. Turn to things that you enjoy. Of course, harmless things only. Do not do anything foolish out of frustration or depression or anything that follows the wait in life that you can not understand.

Even while waiting at a traffic light we know that the wait is going to be only momentary. We know that very soon we are going to on the freeway and then we can cruise for miles at a stretch comfortably. Life is like that. It's all well planned. If you are stuck waiting at a traffic signal, free way is not too far way. You will very soon be on life's freeway too. Of course, at some point, you will have to get out of the freeway and get on local streets to get to where you are going. Slowing down and speeding up are both parts of life. Both are required. As nobody can enjoy day without night, same thing with halt and progress in life.

This metaphor can be taken even further. Sometimes we get stuck due to some other reasons. May be there is an accident. May be traffic is stopped for some other reason. These days we get real-time traffic advice on some GPS systems that are enabled with such capability. They can receive live traffic updates and advice you an alternative routes to take.

Even in life we get live traffic updates if we carefully listen. God sends enough live traffic updates. We are listening to damn music so loud that we fail to hear those updates. We are distracted by everything else that we forget to heed to God's advice to take alternate routes. But, if we care to listen, we sometimes can take alternate routes to reach our destination. Sometimes, things get too painful on some of the paths we take in life simply because that's not the right path for us at all. Have you found it very hard to make progress on some areas in life while you have been able to make progress in other areas with much less effort? There must be a reason for that. The area you are struggling is not the area that God wants you to progress. In God's grand scheme of things, you got a role to play and you are trying to play some other role. God has to stop you from doing that.


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