I took it for granted that the green lights were the good ones.
Like a sign . A loving whisper of encouragement: Go.
Right timing. Go.
You are ready now. Go.
Of course green lights are the good ones. Who doesn’t want green?
Except, also, remembering…
Once we were so in love we wanted each second to lengthen: to extend a little longer, hold a few drops more. Walking the streets slowly, delighting in each opportunity to stop. We worshipped red lights, cherished every moment of red.
Leaning into each other slightly. This arm just barely brushing that arm. The sensation of warm breath near my ear. Muscle. Tension. Warmth. Adoration. Pleasure. Pleasure tinged with the pain of future ending.
The sweetness of knowing that each moment of Don’t Walk was another moment of this.
You forget, and then you remember. Hello, red light. Hello, pause.
Oh this beautiful heart.
Agent Anna and I have a shared epiphany that took slightly different forms.
Hers occurred when she realized that meditating is not boring at all. That in fact it is exactly like that deliriously sweet moment when your head is resting on your lover’s chest and you are listening to your lover’s heartbeat.
And you have no thoughts in you at all other than: OH THIS BEAUTIFUL HEART. OH THIS BEAUTIFUL MOMENT.
Meditation, she realized, is exactly that, except the heart you are listening to is your own.
For me, the moment came in Tel Aviv, on the wooden floor after yoga. I was trying to remember if I had ever felt this still, this blissfully steady, this at home in my body and the world, this singing of joyful aliveness in my veins.
I realized: oh, this quiet happy stillness is like when you have just had stupid-good sex that was so stupid-good that you couldn’t form a complete sentence to save your life, but it doesn’t matter because guess what, there is nothing on earth that needs to be said.
OH THIS BEAUTIFUL ALIVENESS.
And that, I am now realizing, is what red lights are for. I can’t remember that feeling of OH THIS BEAUTIFUL ALIVENESS if I don’t stop and breathe it in. If I don’t get quiet enough to remember.
This moment: beautiful.
I took it for granted that the green lights are the good ones. Movement over not-movement. Stopping means noticing that everything is changing. Stopping means feeling all the feelings.
“Is there anything that’s not a lesson in impermanence and this-moment-is-beautiful?”
That was my lover’s question as the water from the bath slowly drained around us during a long red light. That moment: beautiful. Painful and beautiful.
This moment: beautiful.
On the radio at the cafe.
Green was go and play and pleasure.
Playing in the background at the cafe as I write these words…
“Do you believe that there are treasures in the oceans /
One kiss from you and I’m drunk up on your potion.”
That’s Angus & Julia Stone…
Yes. That is an accurate description of green.
Except red can be like that too.
That’s kind of what those long slow red-light pauses were like.
Full of treasures and potions.
I didn’t used to like to stop. Because of the NO.
Green was obviously better than red. Walk obviously better than don’t walk. The image of the guy walking: obviously better than the red hand of Don’t Walk.
That red hand of NO and STOP seemed so formal and cold. Like a preachy wagging finger of no-no-no.
It was rules and institutions and restrictions: all the things I rebel against and do not agree to having in my life.
The red hand of no as an amulet of protection.
Green lights are the good ones.
But now that red hand suddenly appears like a hamsa: a blessing of protection.
Here. You are safe. Pause. Breathe. Rest into this moment of safety. You are held in the pause. Nothing to do but breathe. Refuge and reprieve.
The red hand wasn’t saying I have to stop. The red hand says I get to stop.
Not red for danger. Red for grounding and rootedness.
The hand wants to give me the best gift there is, and I extend my hand to receive it: Pleasure. Breath. Center. Refuge.
Speaking of signs.
At Rally (Rally!) last summer, TJ, who, just like me, prefers the green lights, wanted a sign. He found a sign, but it said NO.
Literally. It was an actual sign, and it said NO.
He wasn’t happy about the NO at first, because he was really, really hoping for a clear YES.
It turned out okay, like everything at Rally always does. And he found his yes. It was a pretty great yes.
Actually, it was a yes that lived on the other side of an entirely different no.
This is what I think of when I think of how I have misunderstood red lights.
The red light isn’t giving me a no of “you can’t do this”, it is the no of “take a minute before you do, take a minute to get ready and present for the next yes.”
Pause. Pause. Pause. Yes, now I am ready to go again.
One more piece but I say it in tiny letters because it scares me a little.
What if they’re all good ones? What if red makes green better and green makes red better?
I took it for granted that the green lights are the good ones. As if that’s even a thing. If there are options there are not good.
What if this moment is right? Red. Green. What if the light I get is good? What if the light I have is good?
That’s what I’m thinking about as I rest into each moment of pause, as I stride forward with each moment of go.
How we play here. You are invited.
This is that very rare thing that is safe space on the internet, and for that to work, we lovingly commit to not giving each other advice and not caretaking.
Within that, you can play any way you like. I am receptive to appreciation, wonder and delight, things you noticed or sparks sparked for you about red lights and related themes, ways you are going to play with this.
And I will always always always take flowers, because flowers make everything better.
For Agent Anna’s words… (Oh my.)
For the difference between having to and getting to… (This is showing up for me again. This is truth, this is truth, this is truth.)
For resting and striding forward, as the moment calls for…
….Thank you. <3. Namaste.
*Glossy red waratahs in a green enamel jug* Yep, all of this is good.
You don’t know (or maybe you do) how much I needed this. I keep seeing red lights. I actually had a page in my notebook about every single no I’ve been receiving. And now I can see them as every single place where my right people are not, every single sign that is saying “no, the path does not go this way, it goes that way.”
And I remember that Ganesh is not just the remover of obstacles, but sometimes he place them in our way to guide us in the right direction.
And maybe the trees that have fallen across the path are just nice places to sit for a little bit.
On the color wheel, red and green are complementary colors. And the very definition of “complement” is “to complete something” or to fill in something that is missing. In art school I was always taught that when complementary colors are used together, each makes the other seem all the more bright, vibrant, beautiful. That each makes the other more complete in its essence. Green makes Red seem more perfectly Red. Red brings out the beautiful Greenness of Green. And just maybe…green isn’t quite the same, not quite whole, without red standing beside it. I love this.
Sending you a virtual bouquet of luscious red roses, blooming bright on rich, green stems. Thank you for this.
>” the heart you are listening to is your own.”
You are so good at transforming the universe. Or, well, not even transforming it. Transforming the thoughts about it, in ways that elucidate what it always already was and is.
Oh. Oh. OH!
What if red makes green better and green makes red better?
And now I am thinking of all the times in my life that have felt like painful pendulum swings between frantically going-going-going, doing-doing-doing (oh the shame, so much to do, I’ll never ever get it all done!) and stopping, waiting, hesitating, hiding, not doing any of the stuff (oh, the shame, the avoidance, tsk tsk!). Green to red to green to red. Spending all the green time wishing for red; spending all the red time thinking guiltily of green.
What if red makes green better and green makes red better?
Monsters. Please listen, loves. There is a better way. Let’s have some tea, and talk about this.
A pause is great. It accepts the moment just as it is without pressure for change, and thus this gives space to something new… thank you for your story, it is fun to read, love!
Oh, Havi. Oh, gorgeous.
This, this right here is what we will be celebrating on Saturday, when my Circle does Beltane. Bowing down and raising our arms and voices to the ineffable sweetness that does not rush past, but offers a pause, that invites us to savor.
I needed this. I need this. I am so grateful for this. Thank you.
A gorgeous post Havi. Oh my my my yes.
A further deepening of understanding the pause, the stop, the permission to go slow, oh how beautiful.
This post also made me think about the “rightness” of the no that is the “no you can’t go there – or come here.” Here’s a radical thought I can’t even believe I’m saying (writing) aloud, What if the red lights that require us to stop, the “have tos” are perfect too?
Havi, this is beautiful. Thank you thank you thank you. I cherish your words.
white freesia and pink roses.
It’s autumn where I am, so we have red leaves and green leaves in the garden, but really they are secret agent flowers.
I’ve never seen a red STOP light hand before. On our traffic lights the green man is walking and the red man is standing still… or lying down and having a rest, maybe. Or doing yoga nidra.
Tiny Cal (past me) remembers watching an experiment on the Curiosity Show, where if you have a disc that is half red and half green, and you spin it very fast, you get white light. I am not going to look it up, because I want to believe it more than I want to know whether it’s true 🙂
And OH YES to Anna’s words – and I wonder why I keep putting that joy off until later when I could meditate Right Now. Some voice, somehow, keeps telling me I could be doing that Later, there’s always a Later, when there’s more interesting things I could be doing Now. Hmm. This might be a job for the Girl Sleuth.
I use red lights when I’m driving as an opportunity to take deep breaths and enjoy not moving so fast. Because everything moves faster than I’d like it to right now, and if I could walk everywhere, I would. Because that’s the speed I’d be more comfortable with. I have forgotten what it’s like to live in a city where my feet are my transportation.
Sigh. Exactly. Thank you, Havi.
Perfect. Just perfectly what I needed this moment…
And red lights are never going to be the same for me, ever!
yes! so perfectly beautiful for me to read right now.
I feel like I just took a luxurious bath in this post, the perfection and wonder of it soaking in through my skin and helping me feel so much more then ok about allowing a beautiful shift to happen.
Thank you 😉
Thank you so much for writing this.
I’m waiting for someone I love to move to my city. We’ve never lived in the same city before. I thought he’d be coming in May, but now he’s coming in July. When I found out he’d be delayed, I was frustrated and upset. I wanted him to hurry up and get here already so we can get on with our lives and see each other and have adventures. I wanted a green light.
But this was a big red light. Not a permanent “no,” but a “stay here and wait for a while.”
And now I’m realizing, after thinking it over and reading this, that I’m grateful for that red light. I’m grateeful for this space to breathe and settle into myself and prepare for him to arrive.
I’ll be excited and happy and nervous and feel so many things when the green light finally comes; it’ll be a big change in my life. But right now, I can wait for the change, and rest and stretch out and find a small period of stillness, before life launches forward again.
Flowers for you! What a beautiful feeling expressed.
May all those red hearts around right now help us appreciate red lights.