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The Timing of Traffic Lights

As we wrapped the final installment of the first volume of S4 of Stranger Things, Nicholle & I made plans for breakfast in the morning from Dunkin’ Donuts: Coffee for the both of us and breakfast wraps for the kids; we would forego the doughnuts since we had partaken in Friday’s observance of National Doughnut Day. (Seriously, it’s a thing.)

The cat’s annoying antics roused me around eight o’clock, so I got myself ready & fed the cat, trying to quietly skedaddle out the door. Success, thus far, so the day’s off to a pretty good start, eh? Breakfast, transfer Nicholle to her wheelchair, then kit up for a nice, couple-of-hours ride on the road bike.

I made my usual left-right jog out of the neighborhood and hit the usual traffic light at the first major intersection. After that, I hit every one of the six traffic lights between the neighborhood and Dunkin’ Donuts, having to stop just when I was getting going.

This happens regularly on this stretch of roads, as I’m sure it happens to countless people on countless stretches of roads all over the world, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. It does, however, reach somewhat deeper for me, personally.


Among the myriad things that make Nicholle & I a good fit for one another is that we’re both Type A people. Sure, Nicholle’s more A+, and I’m more A-, but we’ve both the traits of Type A, especially the ability to build a plan towards most any goal or objective and work together to achieve success by sticking to the plan, making minor adjustments when needed. This process has been true from the minute to the major—meals to marathons to major purchases. But life with MS has complicated this facet of our relationship, of ourselves to a high degree.

Almost without fail, anytime a plan is established, be it for the next couple of hours or days or weeks or months, something happens to derail the plan. Maybe the timing is just off (it can sometimes take thirty or more minutes to get Nicholle successfully transferred to her wheelchair in the morning) or maybe it’s something else, but something almost always happens, and it’s utterly frustrating.

But, just like with hitting red light after red light on a seemingly short trek to get coffee or what-have-you, there is nothing that can be done about it. So I can either sit there and be frustrated, or I can adapt.

Swim. Bike. Run. Adapt.

Much of the past several years have been about adaptation—change, if you will, and change is always hard, especially as one ages, just as I have. However, much of what I’ve learned from triathlon and its comprised sports is that adaptability—change—is part of the process and must be part of the plan. A user from a triathlon forum I still occasionally haunt instills this idea through his sig file:

By all means have a plan. But make sure the ability to change the plan is part of the plan.

Paraphrased sig file from a Slowtwitch user.

Change is hard. Being slowed down or even stopped from wants or whatnot is hard, too. And it’s annoying, it’s frustrating, it’s downright maddening.

But it’s also inevitable.

Sure, changes can be made to alter the timing of the traffic lights on my commute to get coffee, but changes to my the interruptions of the figurative commute through my day are a lot less likely to happen. No city manager can help with that.

It’s taken me a few hours to write these few hundred words, having been interrupted a few dozen times by one thing or another, one person or another. (Three times just writing this paragraph, as a matter of fact.) But I’ve just attributed it to the timing of traffic lights, the fact that sometimes some things happen. That, sometimes, I just need to adapt and move on as best I can. It might not be the pace that I want or the exact sequence that I had planned, but what needs to happen somehow & usually winds up happening. My happiness with the process is irrelevant.

The kids got their breakfast and are safe & well. Nicholle & I got our coffee, and she is safe & well. My planned, outdoor road ride will just get altered to a mountain bike ride or something on Wahoo X.

Plan. Adapt. Breathe.

Thanks for reading.