Matthew McConaughey would call it a GREENLIGHT.
In his book (highly recommend!!), he describes a yellow light or red light as something that slows us down– perhaps an interruption, a hardship, a failure, or a disappointment. A GREENLIGHT, though, is a sign to “go, proceed, more, please carry on”. It means you have the choice to slow down, stop short and let it become a red light, or you can put the pedal to the medal and not slow down at all. Any challenge, any pause we take, any interruption in our plans–all potential GREENLIGHTS if we accept that sometimes the plan goes as intended… and sometimes it doesn’t.
The truth is, red and yellow lights eventually turn green in the rearview mirror.
We were unfortunate travelers caught in the Southwest debacle one day after Christmas. Headed to Los Angeles for a wedding we did not want to miss, and 2 days planned at Disneyland. We found out 12 short hours before our scheduled flight that there was to be no flight.
Our well-planned itinerary failed us, but it was not going to stop us. I give my son’s friend, Skip, credit for helping us recognize our GREENLIGHT moment.
Hours before, his connecting flight on Southwest was delayed and he was stuck in Las Vegas. Instead of panicking, complaining or having a Karen-moment, he simply texted the boys… “Looks like a GREENLIGHT” and he made the most of it .
I respected his ability to adjust. Good for him I thought, to rise above the crappy situation and find something good to come from an uncomfortable delay in his plans. It’s so true… our attitude depicts our altitude.
Shortly after, we were faced with the same dilemma. Our plans, blown up by things out of our control, left us to decide if this would red light us or if we would turn it into a GREENLIGHT. A red light would be understandable considering the circumstances, but why would we miss out simply because we had to adjust?
If Skip could find a GREENLIGHT, so could we. Chasing GREENLIGHTS was rubbing off on me. So, my husband gassed up the car and we left 9 hours later. Road trip!
For 8 hours (each way) my adult children were trapped in a car with me. GREENLIGHT. Because I’m the smallest member of my family I have been demoted to the back seat, so my daughter had no choice but to lean on me when she wanted to stretch out. GREENLIGHT. We talked, laughed, slept, and made the best of the boring drive. GREENLIGHT. I had time alone with them that I never seem to get because they are so busy. GREENLIGHT. The wedding was a blast. GREENLIGHT. Disneyland looks magical at Christmas. GREENLIGHT.
My heart was full. GREENLIGHT.
Chasing GREENLIGHTS is about resilience, endurance, timing, and persistence. GREENLIGHTS are adjustments, choices and turning challenges into blessings.
Persist, pivot or concede. It is up to us, our choice every time.
Our lives are not always going to be GREENLIGHTS. We need to lean into adjustments and be resourceful when needed. If you hit a yellow or red light, it’s only a matter of time before it turns green. The key is to just keep going. One step at a time.
Live your life with a series of commas, not periods. In a word full of disappointments and struggles, find and create your GREENLIGHTS.