Every so often I drive down a broad, traffic-snarled boulevard encrusted with stop lights and–
Every light turns green just when I need it to do so.
I never tap the brakes. I never have to slow down and stop and think about why anyone would want to put a stop light here, or watch other people strut slowly and righteously through the cross walk.
No–I just zoom on through, sometimes surrounded by other cars, other times alone, my emotions rising with what appears to be good fortune as I wonder if this is what it’s truly like to Go With The Flow.
As I approach the flow, I ask myself what did I do to deserve this sudden and thoroughly unforeseen grace. Is this a reward, a karmic pay-off, like a lottery win or a jackpot pay-out, for aspiring to be a nice guy, a decent person? Could this have something to do with the money I dropped into the Salvation Army kettle last Christmas? Or maybe it’s happening because I selflessly hauled the neighbor’s garbage can back to the curb after the wind blew it halfway down the block?
A red light ahead changes at just the right moment so I can continue to glide forward, and a flash of doubt sends a shiver of fear through my seat-belted gut: what if all this good luck is merely a wind-up to something bad? Is this the calm before the storm, a universal pendulum swinging, the yin/yang of action and reaction, good following bad, bad following worse, worse following even worse than you can imagine leading inexorably to the slippery slope that ends in the worst?
In the distance, a green light stays green as I approach and pass through the interesection and I realize that there is a God Who wants me to experience this, not as a series of inexplicably linked events, but as revelation. I am being reminded that, beyond whatever skill I have at nudging the gas pedal, is a realm of supernatural magnificence whose ways and means I will never comprehend but are so far out there that I can only be grateful when a crumb of that golden goodness falls my way.
I feel humble, but humility soon leads to a strange kind of grief. What about the poor shlubs behind me, and way out in front, who must stop at red lights? Why do they have to suffer so I can get my heavenly green light? Do they somehow deserve tormented by tedious delays? Or is their agony part of a cosmic plan that will eventually come to pass when I’m dead, buried and the part of me that is conscious enough to suffer is either dancing on pinheads or providing fuel for a demonic barbecue?
Another green light lets me pass and I realize that, like so many nerdy superheroes-to-be, I just may be The Chosen One who, by a peculiar dysfunction of science, nature or technology gone bonkers, is developing an ability to not merely glide through green lit intersections but, perhaps, change red to green with a squint of my inner psychic eye!
There, up ahead, is an angry firery traffic light waiting to cut me down to size. Perhaps the work of the scheming, evil Dr. Stasis who wants to throw civilization into permanent chaos the world by making all traffic lights turn red at the same time, and stay red forever and ever!
I train my eye on the red light and say, “Change,” and–
It stays red until the very last minute and then it goes green!
What is it about the way I told it to change that made the light take so long to follow my psychic command? Ahh, I get it now: I may be the Chosen One, but I have to become good at whatever I’m chosen to be. I have to find a mentor, a guru with kind eyes and a big beard who is going to teach me all this stuff I don’t want to learn so I can get mad, stomp out into the cold cruel world and fight Dr. Stasis without full knowledge of my special power, which, as everyone knows, is being nice, humble, modest and willing to be kind to people of any and every ethnic type, demographic, political persuasion, gender and position on every “hot button” social issue that keeps our massive media in business.
Easy…if you’re a superhero.
At that point, I take the last turn, roll up into my driveway and turn off the car. I stare through the windshield at a garage that isn’t a Bat Cave. I look at a house that is not a mansion of some super rich guy whose wealth and tech savvy has given him the toys with which he can save the world.
I open the door and stand on my own two feet.
My last thought as I leave and press the button that makes the car chirp as it locks itself is–
Maybe I’ll take a different way home next time.