Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – email@example.com
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I was sitting in my car waiting at the traffic lights yesterday, thinking about – well – traffic lights, and the emotions they evoke.
Red lights annoy me – they hold me up. I dislike having to wait. If I know where I am going, or what I want, I like to happen as soon as possible, I get impatient with waiting. Buy why? As I think about it now, I realise that I am not like this in all situations. There can be something very exciting about waiting, at times. The build-up to an important event, for example, can be compelling. “Tingling with anticipation”. I remember a decent amateur footballer I used to know who talked about the build up to a match, which started when he’d get home from his match on a Saturday. Unpacking the kit, washing it, cleaning his boots – all these seemingly tedious tasks were part of a building excitement, a ritual that led to another math in a week’s time. The build-up to Christmas can be similar and the ritual of opening the advent calendar, like the footballer cleaning his boots, adds to the anticipation of the event itself.
Amber lights can be even more annoying than red, I think. Sitting well back in a queue, as the lights change, it can seem to take forever between the lights changing and the car in front of us moving. I have an idea – a little fantasy – that when the lights change, everybody should move off immediately, rather than waiting for the person immediately in front of them to move. Think how much time we’d all save if we did that! And what could possibly go wrong? Well, I suppose there might be the occasional crash. But it’s strange how distorted our impression of time can be. A few seconds sitting in a queue can seem a long time when we’re ready to go but others delay us. I’m aware that when I’m sitting at the front of the queue, I always try to make sure that I move off promptly when the lights change, so as not to hold everybody else up, even for a few seconds!
Amber lights, too, can be a signal to stop – that the lights are about to go red. Increasingly, they seem to be a seen as a challenge. Drivers seem to accelerate through amber lights as a matter of routine. A rebellion? Defiance? Outsmarting the authorities?
Green for go. Good news, surely? Well, I remember being driven, in my teens, by a family friend who hated green lights. As she approached them, she became fearful that they would change to amber, and that she would not be able to brake in time to stop. So she would slow down, driving as if the lights were already red, just in case they changed. And then, if the lights remained green, would come the awful decision, for her, about when to accelerate and go through them. She was, I suppose, a pessimist. Maybe she expected things to go wrong for her. Perhaps life was littered with disappointments and she had learnt to take nothing for granted. She may have felt that he idea of a free passage through the lights was just a trick.
How do the different phases of the lights affect you?