I remember sitting at the spotlight down the street from the house I live in. I haven’t lived there long; just since the beginning of the month, so the street light and the route to get to the places I normally go are all new to me now. It’s not a significant change, but it’s still odd to have to adjust to these things.
Because of this, I find myself sitting at spotlight that normally isn’t important to me at all, waiting to turn right onto a busy street that will take me to my regular places. And I keep waiting, because I pulled up to the stoplight, which was red, and looked at the intersecting cars, waiting on them to move through and perhaps for a chance to sneak in with all of the others who were going where I wanted to be going. Only, nobody was moving.
As you’ve probably guessed, the light was green. As soon as I pulled up, it changed, and it had been my time to go for several seconds. I was caught staring at everyone around me, not noticing that it was my turn to go. I couldn’t notice my own circumstances because I was too focused on everyone else.
I lived in one house for six years of my life. Basically my entire adult life up to this point, spent inside the same four walls. A lot of living had occurred while I was there, good and bad. Relationships had started and ended during the time I lived there, occupations entered and left.
When I looked at all the things my friends were accomplishing in the past six years, my life wasn’t impressive. I stayed in one place for the entire time, often while expressing frustration with my living situation. In the meantime, my friends were buying houses, completing Masters degrees, getting married, finding careers they wanted to dedicate their working lives to. I didn’t have those things. I was staring at traffic, just waiting for my chance to slide in.
Moving into my new house was, in a lot of ways, a lateral move. I wasn’t stepping up in the world by buying my own place or anything like that. But it might just be the opportunity that I wouldn’t have noticed if I had stayed in the same place, staring into traffic and watching everyone I knew pass me by. This could have been the chance to round the corner.
We do this. A lot. We think we have to stop, like the light is red for us, while everyone else still has the freedom to move forward. We glue our attention to others, wanting so badly to just be a part of that crowd. We focus so entirely too much on the progress of those we see that we don’t realize the corner is ours to round. The street is ours to drive on. Traffic is stopping for us.
We never noticed that the light was green the entire time.