There are those moments where one's mind wanders. We think of times gone by and when we do, inevitably we reach the point where we wonder.
"What if I had done it differently?"
"What if I could go back knowing what I know now..."
"What if I only took the chance!"
The price of the red light is a momentary pause. Things may happen up ahead that we might never know of or about. The price of the detour is to change direction and to greet a new road and new things we would never be aware of if we travelled straight on. The price of the green light is that we just keep going, staying in the groove, never slowing down and never changing direction. As long as the light is green, it is easier to just keep on truckin'.
Throughout life we are greeted with a series of obstacles that keep us from our intended, straight line plans. If we have a plan for our life, and where we want to be in the future, as the result of what we do today, then that plan represents your straight line. Obstacles may slow you down, force you to detour, or make it impractical to stay with the plan. The plan must be altered or abandoned completely. The price of the green light is emptiness. Those that have a life plan and follow it deliberately from start to finish without deviation might as well be robots. They have never tasted life. They have only planned it.
Such people are probably only myths,
like minotaurs and lemurs.
The real test is how one handles the red lights, the caution flags, the detours, the turns, the sharp corners and everything else the road of life throws at you. There are too many variables for your carefully charted plan to succeed. This is because the plan is like training wheels on that first bicycle you got as a kid. These carefully charted steps towards perceived success are like the net beneath the tightrope walker. One day you'll be strong enough to work without the net and you'll take off the training wheels.
This is where the Sunday afternoon country drive ends
And the journey begins
When you have those passing daydreams of going back in time to periods of your life and making different choices, you are relying on what you know now, not what you knew then. This is a sign that you have learned something from the past. When you drift into the world of memories and begin to wish other people had done different things, then you are wasting your time. Nothing can be gained from imagining people treated your differently or gave you a better opportunity. Change comes from within. The temple is within you, learn from your own scriptures and remember as you journey forward into the future.
Self-examination requires that you learn something from it, not just wax over the same points and complain about them. Look for the patterns. Have you been too quick to detour whenever things begin to look like they have the potential to fail or become dangerous? Do you give up on people too quickly, judging them only within your own frame of reference? Perhaps you have a tendency to act on instinct with little regard to the myriad consequences of your actions. Maybe you retreat into yourself too often, embracing disappointment and depression too easily. These patterns, and many others, are very addictive. Once we get used to a certain way of responding to external situations, it becomes comfortable and we dress ourselves in what has become our way.
If you have ever hosted a party, one of the things you have likely dealt with is a choice of music. The party might call for loud music or perhaps just something softly swaying in the background. Somewhere in between the two the host makes choices that take into account his tastes as well as the tastes of his guests. Perhaps he's even made some compilations cassettes or CDs that he plans on slipping on. Regardless of the method, the host knows that he must set the table for all guests. If he disregards some guests in favor of others, he will likely cause some discord. Although he knows a few of his friends are very interested in listening to the latest album from Rocky Creamcheese and His Testicular Choir, who record all their music on regular kitchen pots and pans, the rest of the party is not likely to respond well to this selection.
"This music is gay."
You have planned your party, including the music, and you hope everything will run smoothly. You've tried to think of everything and hope your careful attention to detail will result in a good time had by all. Then you've got someone running up to you and complaining. They don't like the music. You tried to stick with popular favorites in order to please the broadest group of party guests, but this snot-nosed kid is telling you that your musical selections suck. You try to placate him, but in your mind you feel he has a point. If you were chosing music just for yourself, you would have made other selections, but you were trying to choose for the widest acceptability amongst your guests. A few will be tuned out, but a few will also be turned off by your spinach dip or think that the wine or beer you bought is not up to their standards. There will always be dissenters, just as there will always be the one person who comes up to you to tell you that the wine is the best they ever had, the spinach dip is superb and the music is perfect.
You've created a world.
You watch the people interact.
You watch them react to you.
You are impatient with the complainers. You pay little heed to the overly solicitous. Those who offer constant, empty praise get a simple "thank you." You wait for the real challenge. You wait for those who will stir your interest with new ideas and thoughts. You look for those who have something interesting to say or a new way to say something. When you are challenged, you expect it to be a true challenge and not just a "your music is gay" challenge. You want to grow and to move forward, but if no one challenges you, and if nothing stirs change in you, then all you are doing is going through a series of green lights. One day you'll fall asleep at the wheel. Or fall in love with the power.
Or what you think power is.
Wake up time.