Stoplights Are Reminders to Take a Deep Breath

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Stoplights have often gotten the best of me. They have real implications. Through one lens, it’s making me late or wasting my time. Through another lens, it’s offering me a moment to be present and still.

In a world that’s racing, a stoplight can be a field for me to rest in. I don’t always see it that way, but the presence of the stoplight is something that doesn’t change. The stoplight is out of my control, like many other things in life.

Sometimes we are forced to stop moving and wait. We might have to stall to pick up a checked bag at the airport—remember that time you thought you packed light, but they put your bag on a scale? We might have to wait in line at a grocery store, in traffic, or at the doctor’s office.

These moments can be irritating. But they can also be opportunities to melt into the present. Plus, the moment is still going to happen regardless of how you feel about it.

How amazing is it that we can board a plane in one city, ascend, blast through the clouds to an altitude where there is only a blue sky and sunshine, and then land back on the Earth in another city? That is wild. Don’t let stillness damper this unbelievable moment.

Instead, accept stillness and let it liberate your attention to engage in the moment. Breathe. Look around you and observe—take in the new space you just landed in.

Stillness offers uninhibited participation in the moment. We can feel the ground on our feet; we can smile at the sun pouring through the window; we can feel the energy of the people around us; we can observe the brightness of the red light.

Still moments allow us to appreciate the beauty of living and breathing.