In the grand sweep of existence, where each life is a story told in innumerable pages and unspoken thoughts, there are certain banalities that, against all odds, possess a touch of the sublime. Think, for a moment, of traffic lights. Those ubiquitous sentinels directed an ever-changing flow of steel and humanity — red, yellow, green, and then red again. They stand in quiet constancy, even as the world ebbs and flows around them, a river of ambitions and disappointments, of rendezvous made and missed.
As you pull up to one of these intersections, you find yourself in a tableau of temporary stillness — a pause imposed not by choice but by an external wall. It’s in this pause that a curious kind of equality emerges. The executive, draped in an air of self-importance, harbored within the sleek vessel of his sedan, shares this stretch of asphalt with a laborer, worn and weathered, on a city bus bound for the next job. A young woman, her car a sanctuary of music loud enough to drown out the world, keeps transient company with an elderly man, who, alongside his life partner, envelops himself in a hushed nostalgia.
For this sliver of time, they are all equal subjects under the reign of red. No one moves; no one can. Rules that might seem arbitrary or confining instead serve a higher purpose — they bind us, connecting our disparate lives in an episode of common experience. The light commands attention, leveling the playing field of existence to something achingly democratic. For that brief interlude, we are all simply travelers sharing the passage of time, waiting for permission to surge ahead.
The curtain is pulled back ever so slightly at these intersections of life and road, revealing the fragile thread that connects us. While we may not exchange even a fleeting glance, there exists between us a certain intimacy — a brief but tangible acknowledgment of the other. Together, we are encapsulated in a slice of shared reality, each aware of the other’s presence, even if our lives are destined never to cross again.
As the light changes, as the colors shift, and we find ourselves propelled forward, what lingers is a humbling recognition: that we are all, despite our complex, chaotic stories, bound by the same laws of movement and pause, of halting and proceeding. In this recognition lies a grace, a gentle reminder that though our lives may diverge in countless ways, we are inescapably connected at these small, ordinary corners of existence.