I had pulled to a stop at the stoplight and sat for a few seconds before I realized that I had stopped for a green light. I was actually looking at the red light at the next intersection a block away when I stopped. My light was green and had been green all along.
Fortunately no one was behind me. If someone had been, I am sure he would have let me know that I was stopped at a green light. People honk and do rude things when they have less reason. But this time they would have properly honked me into awareness. As it was, I finally woke up to what I was doing.
Why would I have stopped for the next light instead of the one immediately ahead? I was looking too far ahead, responding to the next light instead of my own. When I got there, that light had actually turned green too. I had anticipated stopping there too soon, and when I got to that point there was no need to stop.
I had gotten ahead of myself. I had allowed a more distant signal to control immediate responses, instead of paying attention to what was immediately in front of me. I was living too far into the future, and the future was not what I thought it would be.
I wonder what fearful expectations those stoplights might represent to us– diseases, accidents, misfortunes, calamities? When does fear take control and make us stop where we should be going? When does skepticism or cynicism keep us from moving ahead because we have stopped too soon? When does a poor experience become a block to the future instead of a learning experience to help us do better?
We turn for inspiration to one who knowingly kept his own death in front of him throughout his journey, but did not let it bring his work or love for others to a premature end. It could have brought him to a stop, but instead he insisted on moving ahead, not only for himself, but for all who would follow him, a permanent green light.
Not that every light I come across is now green. I will wait my turn, but for the time being I remember to look for the light where I am, not where I expect to be. There will be plenty of time for the future, when it gets here.