It was a bright new day in an unfamiliar country. Fresh off the boat – just a day into the United States, I stepped out with the toddler in tow for a walk around the neighborhood. There was a huge park right in front of our house, surrounded by roads and cars whizzing past. The sights and smells were new – as we were beginning to get accustomed to life in a new country. We didn’t know how long we are going to live here, nor realized what it will take us to blend into life in this habitat. All that we knew was that we are here… and let the adventure begin…
So coming back to the story – I am taking the girl out for a walk. She is 14 months old and I am using a stroller to move her around. Both of us are soaking in the new world we are in – me being particularly overprotective and motherly about it. At that time I had moved to the country without a job – so both mother and daughter had plenty of time to kill during the day. It was lunchtime, and with the help of Google maps and some fuzzy toddler translation, we zoomed down on a local restaurant to have our lunch in.. The trek began and everything was hunky dory until we reached an obstacle that we have to cross to reach the other end – a road!
Now normally, you wouldn’t consider crossing a road a huge hurdle, right? You will say – Ah, just wait for the light to turn green, and you can cross. Yay!!. I thought so too.. waited for the light to turn green and some pedestrian sign to show up – but it never did. The light did turn from red to green, but the cars continued to zip past. I waited and waited.. then we got a bit uncomfortable. At this point, I am getting more and more worried – How on Earth do people cross the road in California ??
As all humans do in situations like this ( to not look foolish ) – we observe around us and try to copy what everyone else up to. And that generally helps you get to the answer to your question. So I patiently prevail and bide my time…
The light turns green again. I see this lady in high heels hurry up and stand right next to me. The traffic is a bit slow… she furtively glances on both sides of the road and then quickly sprints across it when no car is in sight. I’m half in a mind to follow her, my muscles tense for a split second..but I stop. My instincts tell me that something is wrong – That most certainly doesn’t seem to be the right way to cross the road in a civilized country! So I dig my heels to prevent myself from dashing behind her. The kid is fidgeting in the stroller — and I’m still hanging around.
A minute passes by and this dude comes along – casual jeans and hoodie, half whistling under the breath. He presses a button on the lamp post beside the street and disappears into his phone. I am observing him very carefully ( and pretending not to) – by the looks of it – he definitely seems to be on to something. And lo and behold.. a blinking white man ( the pedestrian sign ) started flickering on the other side of the street. Today, it is a very familiar sight for me, but at that time it seemed like a sign from the heavens! A blinking pedestrian sign accompanied by an intermittent beep emanating from the lamp post across the street – and I know that we have been saved. Hallelujah… Now we can cross the road!
As I look back to this day – this was not a life-changing moment. It was a run of the mill experience – my first learning out of the innumerable discoveries to follow.
But it taught me a very significant lesson – To listen to and trust my Instincts.
I mean – it is a marvelous thing – how the brain makes snap decisions – trustworthy/not trustworthy, good/not good, Safe/not safe… The instinct of recognizing dangers and steering yourselves into safety has been bored into our heads so immaculately over millions of years and is certainly something that the human mind can neither explain nor ignore!
Image credits: Unsplash.com