There’s nothing more annoying than going through a supermarket parking lot. All you want to do is park, go in, get your Rocky Road ice cream, and get back home to your movie, and Ryan Gosling. But no, before you can even park, you have to drive over 25 speed bumps. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I think I’m pretty close.
Going through any parking lot, whether it’s the supermarket, the bank, or even streets paved with those inconvenient bumps, is a nuisance. Generally, speed bump is a commonly used term for “traffic calming.” Yeah, right! There’s nothing calming about having to practically come to a virtual stop, scrape the bottom of your car, or jar your back, if you happen to come upon one unexpectedly. They’re generally a pain.
Still, they’re there for a reason. They’re there to slow us down.
The more I thought about this, the more I began to see how “speed bumps” appear in our lives, and how they may end up having a positive effect.
Generally, we race through life. We’re so important, and we have so many things to do. We have to get to work, take the kids to school, do the grocery shopping, make the movie, get our hair done, get to class, milk the cows, etc. The activities we throw into our Life Shopping Bag are endless. I see people rushing everywhere. I watch drivers speed up just to make it to the red light. Then they end up waiting right in front of the car they drove around, and flipped off. Yeah, that did a lot of good.
So I’m thinking that Life has its own kind of speed bumps—things that slow us down: an unexpected call, a flat tire, a spilled coffee cup, an injury, an illness, etc. While none of those things are appealing, they do what they’re supposed to do: slow us down, force us to stop, and take inventory of how we’re living. In many instances these delays have saved people’s lives.
On September 11, 2001, Greer Epstein, an executive director at Morgan Stanley, received a call from a colleague 20 minutes before 9:00 a.m. asking if she wanted to take a cigarette break and discuss some work-related matters. Ms. Epstein who, rarely, if ever, took breaks, agreed to go. In the elevator going down, she felt a strong jolt. The elevator had acted weirdly before so she didn’t think twice about it. When she stepped outside, however, she noticed the faces frozen in horror all around her. When she looked up, she saw the first plane fly through her office in the South Tower. That call from her friend had saved her life. This is just one example out of hundreds.
Maybe these unexpected and scattered events in our lives are meant to be “life calming.” Maybe they’re meant to stop us from racing around like someone’s yelled, “Fire!”
As annoying as speed bumps are in the parking lot, we need them. And we need the ones in our lives as well. You never know why they show up, but when they do, Pause. Life is telling you to slow down, perhaps Stop altogether. You might even save your life!