Red Light, Green Light

It’s the beginning of another school year. I view it as a fresh start. It’s the time to break old habits and set new, more productive ones. It’s the time to set more goals and start working toward achieving – or even exceeding – them. It’s a time of renewal.

I’ve been trying recently to decide what I’m going to focus on this year. Do I need to put more time into my health? My academics? My social life? My extracurriculars? How should I balance them all? It all comes down to time. It’s the one thing we can’t stop, can’t manipulate, and yet, it is what rules most of our lives.

My sister said something the other day that made me think. During our daily routine of Taylor putting on her makeup and getting ready while Jordan reads her tens of random facts she will probably never need, Jordan said, “Did you know that the average person spends six months of their life at a red light?”

How much of my life do I spend waiting? If I spend that much waiting at just a red light, how much of my life is spent waiting for everything else: waiting to leave, waiting to arrive, waiting to wait in line somewhere else? The amount of time is probably more than I’d even like to know.

And how do I spend that time? When I consider it, not that well. I spend it thinking about what I’m waiting for, engaged in the act of waiting itself, throwing the valuable currency of time into an abyss of nothingness. Who is to value one moment more than another? Each minute is important, for it’s as if we are spending money without being allowed to check our account balance. We don’t know how many minutes have left to spend.

I want to try to make the most of my red light time this year, by filling it with small things that mean something. It could be studying for an exam, reading some more random trivia, or taking a minute to send a nice text to a friend. I want to be able to say that I spent six months of my life doing something that mattered.

How do you spend your red light time? Do you have any creative ways to make the most of small moments of free time?

P.S. – I’m not actually going to be doing things at a stop light that involve something other than my brain. That’s not safe!