The stoplight of life

stoplight before plugged-in
stoplight before plugged-in (Photo credit: atduskgreg)

Are you the kind of person who floors it through the yellow? Or proceeds, as is the point, with caution?

Sits, open-mouthedly day-dreaming, at the fresh green?

Do you anticipate the full stop and how long it takes to do it? (or how quickly you must?)

I’ve been seriously re-thinking my approach to work, life, love, mostly in how I react — or do not — and how slow my reaction time can be.

My new motto is: Go! Now!

I suspect many of us, behind the wheel, behave in the same ways as we do outside a vehicle. We’re decisive, or not. We focus carefully on the task at hand — or also try to text and put on mascara and eat a burger. We watch the road carefully for potential hazards or boom! we’re in an(other) accident.

I’ve wasted a lot of energy in recent years, paralyzed with indecision about which action to take, when and how — with my mother, work, books I want to write. I suspect it’s a holdover, and not a useful one, from my past, as the only child of a challenging mother with few nearby friends or relatives to help me when things got — and, boy did they — weird, out of my control and scary.

At times of utter chaos, standing very still to assess the damage while deciding what to do next is probably a smart choice.

That was then. This is now. Pedal to the metal, kids!

What color is your stoplight these days?

21 thoughts on “The stoplight of life

  1. Andromache

    My light is a flashing red… Stop, Reflect and proceed with caution to avoid potential collision and if the coast is clear… GO 🙂

  2. Thoughtful post. I always stop at yellow lights, but when the light turns green, I go immediately. I wish I were more like that in my personal life. I think it’s good to be cautious, but once you’ve looked at all the issues and made a decision, you need to get on with it and not waste time. I have a hard time making a decision or following through when I’ve made one. Maybe your post will give me a little shove.

    1. Thanks…and thank you for subscribing!

      I think we all get into habits of behavior. I am extremely decisive…but have failed to act on those decisions as quickly as I would have liked. Every (in) action has a consequence….and I think it’s a fear of that which is the root cause.

  3. I would love to say I’m going full-speed ahead, but it’s sort of like one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator. I’m lurching forward, trying to coax that brake foot to let go a little more, a little more…maybe I’ll smooth out the ride eventually!

  4. I think at the moment my stoplight just has three green lights – but that’s ok because my car doesn’t have any brakes. 🙂

    This kind of reminds me of the first principal of Wing Tsun: “If the way is clear, move forward.” (The rest of Wing Tsun, presumably, is working out how to tell when the way is clear.) I figure that is usually better to act than to delay. You may not know what will happen when you act – but if you don’t act, nothing happens.


    1. Love this! Thanks for stopping by.

      I am much more for action than relection. To mix mobile metaphors, I often stitch my parachute mid-flight.

      I think many of us pause, unnecessarily, for much longer than is wise or helpful, whether socially, professionally or politically.

      1. I have a great mental image of you sewing a parachute on the way down… I guess the trick there is to make sure you’ve got enough canvas before you jump – and I guess that’s why people pause a lot… they stop to think: “Do I have everything I’ll need? Um… not sure… maybe I’ll just test the parachute first…”

        I suppose it’s due to fear of failure – it’s easy to make the consequences of failure into monsters in your mind – then they paralyze you.

        But as some wise person once said: “He who makes no mistakes – makes nothing.”

        but then again: If at first you don’t succeed – sky diving is not for you… 😉

      2. I think it really comes down to a mixture of things…you need the bravado/charm to get the gig while you’re still on a learning curve; you need to be able to DO whatever you have promised, as promised, on time and on budget — and if you’re screwed and panicky (yes!) you need a posse of pals who can give you whatever tools you’re missing at that moment so you can pull it off.

        Failure means….? I guess I don’t consider many things to have been “failures”, even getting canned from a few jobs or book proposals that didn’t sell. Time for the next adventure.

      3. 🙂 Sounds good to me 🙂

        Yeah – I guess there’s no such thing as failure really – but that doesn’t seem to stop a lot of folks being scared of it… like the monster under the bed…

        Although, to be fair – the monster under the bed did eat one of my shoes, so it’s not completely harmless 😉

  5. Unless you’re really risking life/income/health (or that of your family), you have to try new things….and new = potential failure. Unless we “fail”, how do we learn our weaknesses (or strengths?)

    This monster you speak of would explain that hopping gait…:-)

  6. Uh oh. The light has been stuck on yellow for a looong while. This post comes as a good reminder to switch the energy and voltage that run my life. It’s a fantastic time to go and turn the light … psychedelic! 🙂

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