“We all live at the intersection of our small worlds and the big one around us.”
Parker J. Palmer
I love traffic circles and detest traffic lights
…… They are efficient, saving time and energy. But honestly, the real reason is that I can keep moving. The sense of movement, of achieving my goals, of getting closer to my destination, is important to me. More important than I will often admit.
Truth is… when driving in a traffic circle, I have a strange sense of power. It’s there my mental map surfaces. My unconscious rules announce themselves yet again.
“I was here first.”
“I have priority.”
“Others have to merge with me.”
It’s less about taking turns, and more about my choice.
My ego. My drive.
The iconic prog rock band YES, wrote the song “Roundabout”. To me is a tribute to the journey of life.
Recently, a new roundabout was built close to my home. Built at an intersection of a relatively unused country road and a provincial highway – Its a strange one. It seems totally out of place.
One of the main reasons this particular circle was installed, was a steep hill on the country road that made it extremely challenging. It was sometimes impossible to stop safely in wet or icy conditions. Accidents at this intersection cost many lives.
This novel solution allowed momentum to be utilized, shifting the mindset and the driver into a safer approach.
And I’ll admit it – I absolutely LOVE travelling the side-road and driving ….. THROUGH the highway.
Through the busy traffic, usually without stopping.
I get giddy!
I used to have to wait for fast moving cars, and lumbering transports. That was frustrating.
Now I can keep moving.
There is a dark side to this circular tarmac
Traffic circles are generally safer and more efficient systems for managing flow. Except – they are designed to be a flow-through! Not a parking lot.
You need to know where you are going before you get enter one.
Take a good look at who’s already on the circle.
Get on, get off.
Keep moving. Thats the rule.
But sometimes I just want to keep driving around and around.
Admit it. You have too!
This might be fun, but its no way to get somewhere. Soon the journey becomes a dizzying, unproductive and wasteful use of pavement and fuel.
Moving and stuck at the same time
Being stuck sucks.
Sometimes when we get stuck, we feel like we’re driving around and around the same traffic circle, not knowing how to get off.
Which direction to take?
We have momentum, but indecision slows our progress. We feel like we’re going in circles.
Other cars enter and exit, on their way, through our lives. They intersect for only a moment and move on.
Have you ever felt that way? Showing movement to the world around you, yet feeling desperately stuck?
It’s at these times a traffic light would likely serve you better
Time to stop.
A chance for some “forced rest” and reflection.
An opportunity to observe others passing by and learn from them.
Check your fuel.
Adjust the temperature.
Change the station.
And begin again.
The journey is the destination
Someone else said this first. And we’ve all heard it a thousand times. Yet, it bears repeating.
It sure helps to have a destination, a plan and a map, and be making progress towards it.
When we feel we are just going in circles, we must pick an exit and begin again.
Pick a route.
If you want a little extra motivation for those dizzying times … here’s YES singing Roundabout. A little older. A little more jazz, and a little less prog.
It’s a different start to the song, but hey… life changes.