Sitting at a red light thinking, “this must be the longest red light ever!” “It’s got to be my turn soon” “someone or something somewhere must be monitoring this” “they must have some sensors that tells them I’m sitting here waiting”. Isn’t that how life turns out? We feel we are ready to move but we must wait for something to let us go. Like the traffic light there are so many things that control the progression of our lives. The whole “it’s your life go live it” philosophy is a bunch a crap much like “follow your dreams.” These encouraging phrases are meant to motivate you yet they do not honestly tell you how life will react to your motivation. You could have a dream to fly fighter jets yet find the pure disappointment that you’re not tall enough, or not smart enough, or maybe you learn you are afraid of heights. Maybe you dream of being the next rising singing star but despite all the shower rehearsals you cannot sing a solid note let alone hold a melody. It would be great if we could live our lives because they belong to us, however; there are so many other factors that control everything we do. Are these lives truly ours if we do not have complete control of them?
Some of us get up every morning to go to work, not because we want to spend our entire week stitching boots, stamping steel, or crushing rocks but because we need our jobs to pay for our homes and all the debt we have acquired. Sometimes these jobs are very unpleasant and potentially hazardous yet we work like ants because we have to and our lives are dictated by some corporate entity that is crunching numbers in some room far away from the grime of the product producing those numbers. We can sometimes be more of a number on a chart or production list than we are as people with lives yet there is no control of this because we depend on these jobs to provide for our families and in hopes to better our lives. Some of us actually think we are controlling our lives by working ourselves to death. We can often spend so much time working that life itself is essentially lost.
If we work an 8-hour day with one hour for lunch that is 9 hours at our place of employment. Let’s say it takes us 30 minutes to get to our jobs so providing we do not stop along the way or get stuck at this stop light we spend another hour traveling to work. So now we are at 10 hours dedicated for work, but let’s add the hour it takes to get ready for work and then there is the time needed to shower and get the filth of the work day off us so with time to get dressed let’s say that’s another hour of our day. So that tally so far is 11 hours of our lives dedicated to our work which gives us 13 hours left in our 24-hour day. Well that seems as if we have more of our day to do what we want so that’s not too bad, except we should consider the 8 hours of sleep our bodies require. Now we are down to 5 hours of free time and with that free time we can mow the lawn, cook dinner, clean the house, run errands, and teach our kids how to solve word problems. Yep! it’s our lives we should live it.
Our lives are controlled by so many other people and things, and many of these we don’t even realize how much they control us. Many of our actions and daily habits are influenced by the perception of our peers. We often do things, say things, or dress in a certain manner that fits the expectations of social norms. Even the hours of our day are dictated by those how seem to feel it is necessary to save daylight. If you could hover above this earth and look down upon society, it would very much look like an ant colony following orders. Our blindness to it all makes us feel that we have actual choices in life where life actually is a set of multiple choices without the option of none of the above. Our sense of control is a perception that is given to us but even that perception is being influenced by the things we see and hear.
Take politics for instance, we feel as if our vote matters and during any election campaign the candidates seem to care about us, however; the media controls who is exposed to the voters and what issues are on the headlines. The media can control how we feel about the candidates merely by cutting and pasting. In the end, regardless of the amount of actual votes the results never seem to make sense. There have been several times when the popularity vote favored one direction yet the end results favored the opposite. Every vote matters? Maybe every vote matters to us and it makes us feel as if we have some control in how our country is governed, but that is only an illusion meant to keep us in line.
Sitting at this red light waiting thinking that somehow it should know that there is no one else coming the other way and it should just turn green because I have been waiting. I feel as if I should just go through it, however; with my luck a patrol officer could be sitting just out of sight and give me a ticket and some fines. Or worse than that, just as I cross into the intersection a Mack truck comes out of nowhere and drives over my car. My own thoughts and fears are now controlling what I should and should not do. There is a version of a prayer that says:
God give me the Strength to accept the things I can not change
the Courage to change the things I can
and the Wisdom to know the difference
Many of our failures are because we are not strong enough to accept that there are some things out of our control. We will push and push until we cannot push any further yet we fail to realize that this object we are trying to control is not meant to be moved. We also fail to use that same strength to change the very things in our lives that we are able to regardless of how much we know those changes need to take place. Sometimes we feel that we need whatever it is that need to change, or we are just scared to live our lives without it. Many times we are waiting for someone else to make those changes for us. What we certainly need is to have this wisdom to stop trying to control things not meant for our control and to change the very things that will improve our lives. Why must we spend so much time trying to move an immoveable object when we could just adapt our lives to make those precious 5 hours of our free lives more livable.
I know I can’t make this red light turn green, nor should I be able to. I know I must wait the timer out and safely proceed when I am told to. By wanting to change this only make me impatient and that can cause me to act irrationally and by doing so that could affect those 5 hours of my day. I could learn from this experience and remember that this light takes so long to turn green and maybe the next time I could go a block or two further down where there may just be a stop sign that allows me to make a stop and then decide if it is safe for me to go forward. There are always going to be red lights that will force us to stop and wait for the change to green. But there are also other options on different streets that allow us more control. As is with each of our lives, there are so many things that are not meant for us to change and so few things that we can yet the one thing that so many of us have yet to master is knowing the difference and having to courage to act upon it.
Finally!! Green Light!!
Time to Go!