I took it for granted that the green lights were the good ones.

Like a sign . A loving whisper of encouragement: Go.

Permission. Go.

Right timing. Go.

You are ready now. Go.

Red. Light.

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.


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.

The Fluent Self