Yellow light etiquette


Brain things / Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Confession: I am very fond of yellow lights.

I mean traffic lights, of course, the ones that come between green and red. I like yellow lights. Red lights are annoying because you have to brake so hard, you know; and green are tricky because you can’t actually look at them as you approach or they’ll turn on you. I know they do it on purpose. You have to sort of keep a green light in the corner of your right eye while pretending to be entirely occupied with scanning local restaurants along the berm.

And sometimes they change anyway.

But yellow. Yellow is nice. Yellow is wiggle room: a little bit of grace to squeeze by in time. Or to brake calmly. I am not much good at braking; I tend to hammer down in a manner that makes my mother-in-law (or whoever is riding shotgun) place a gentle hand on the console items careening toward the dash. Especially on snowy November mornings.

Yes, yellow is good.

Once I visited a country* where they had a different traffic light sequence: green-yellow-red-yellow-green. I liked this even better, and I think it is truer to life.

*It might have been somewhere as prosaic as Canada. It might have been Haiti or perchance Austria; I tried to research it but I got stuck here and my brain started buzzing; the page might have come from Austria too for all the sense it made me. So. It was somewhere. Unless I dreamed it.

You know life rarely gives you a red or a green. A lot of life is yellow, and you just ease forward.

Whom to date, and how long? What to cook for supper? Whether or not fostering is right for us? Whether God will bless our endeavors to move to another country or buy that lovely house or borrow money for a business or get further education?

You just ease forward. You can get an awful lot of mileage out of yellow lights. More than half the time they’re not a caution but an opportunity – a brief opportunity requiring forward momentum. God steers moving vehicles.

We’re all afraid of getting stuck in the middle of the intersection when the light turns red, our faces flaming to match, impaled on the dilemma of backing up into the horns behind us, or jolting forward into the horns before us. (There will undoubtedly be horns.)

It’s called a venture; you just gotta pretend you do it every day. If in doubt, ease forward.

You’ll be that much farther along when the next green comes.

8 Replies to “Yellow light etiquette”

  1. I’ve seen that special sequence in Poland, England, and Brazil. A handy way to have it, for sure.
    The analogy is true, esp about the horns and good mileage. =)

  2. Smiling all along the way, until at the end it became audible. I think I’ll change from a ‘hate yellow’ to a ‘hmmm, gotta love yellow’ person.

  3. Just last evening, I appreciated the grace that a yellow light extended to me, allowing me to avoid sliding into a snowy intersection. I never thought of life’s “yellow lights” in the way you’ve described them–as a brief opportunity requiring forward momentum. Thank you for challenging me to keep moving today!

  4. I don’t like yellow lights…but I do like this way of looking at life. There are times when you just keep moving in a particular direction, expecting to have more light as you move along! The horns, well, they can confuse me, but if I know where I’m headed, then it’s okay. I just need to keep moving through! Thanks for writing.

  5. “…Impaled on the dilemma of backing up into the horns behind us, or jolting forward into the horns before us. (There will undoubtedly be horns.)”

    Made me think of the sermon this morning with this quote: ““Faith is not belief in spite of evidence but a life in scorn of the consequences.” The going forward in this venture does seem a little scary perhaps, and sometimes, foolish, in the eyes of many hornblowers… but we’re venturing and praying for more greens.

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