Pack Creek Ranch, San Juan County, Utah.
The second week of January, 2017
Snow on the ground, clear and cold by day and night – more snow coming.
LIVING IN THE YELLOW
It’s mid-day in mid-winter in mid-town Moab, Utah.
Here’s the intersection of Center Street and Highway 191.
The traffic light has just turned yellow.
The first car in the northbound lane of traffic is an old white Honda sedan, driven by an older white woman. She starts to move, changes her mind, hesitates, stops.
She is one of those who believe that a yellow light means “caution” – and that one should be patient and wait until the signal cycle brings up the green “Go” light.
Behind her is a red Ford pickup driven by a young man who is one of those who believes that a yellow light means “gun it – go for it” before the light turns red.
So he does that.
Rear-ending the lady in the old white Honda.
In the same time frame I am standing in a clot of pedestrians who are likewise
paying attention to the traffic signals. Our philosophical attitude toward the meaning of yellow is decidedly mixed.
Most of us are not paying attention to the lights applying to pedestrians, anyhow.
Small-towners are not used to sophisticated city systems.
We are watching the lights for vehicles and taking our cues off those signals.
For some of us, any yellow light means a chance for a pedestrian to run for it.
For others of us, a yellow light means we are warned to stand still and wait.
And still others can’t make up their minds – lurching forward – then stopping.
As a result, a yellow light makes for a pedestrian pileup – with people rear-ending one another like the pickup did the Honda.
These collisions create an immediate free-for-all, involving the old lady, the young man, and the pedestrians who are witnesses to the accident as well as participants in their own street corner pile-up.
Add drivers honking from the line of stalled traffic, and mayhem reigns.
The old lady exits her Honda screaming and waving her arms.
The young man climbs down from his pickup and gives her the finger.
The pedestrians berate one another for not paying attention to the lights.
And a siren wailing from an approaching police car rips the air.
This is what I mean by Living In The Yellow.
How we read yellow lights points at a much deeper mind set.
The same signal that means “cool it – be careful” for many people, means “go for it – take a chance” to just as many others.
Warning? – or opportunity? – or just uncertainty?
Most of the time the signals in life are yellow.
Meaning only that the lights are changing – and you have to deal with it.
It’s what you do in that time in the traffic of humanity that defines you.
Yellow is a color of contradiction.
In the West, according to surveys, yellow is the color most people associate with amusement, gentleness, spontaneity, and beauty.
It is also the color most associated with duplicity, envy, jealousy and cowardice.
However, in Asia, particularly in China, yellow is seen as the color of happiness, glory, wisdom, and harmony.
Yellow is the color of gold – and the color of urine.
Yellow is the color of butter and the color of the faces of those with jaundice. Yellow is the most common color of flowers – and the color of pus.
Yellow is the color of safety – most visible at a distance – used for school busses.
Yellow is the color of the star of David the Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis.
Yellow is the color of warning – like the card given soccer players for infractions.
Yellow is the color of the ribbon tied around the old oak tree, signifying hope.
And there is yellow fever, the yellow brick road, cheese, and autumn leaves.
Yellow is the tint of the first light of a new day at sunrise.
And the pale tint of the sky as another day fades away at sunset.
Yellow is a color of contradiction.
And living in the yellow can be deadly dangerous.
The line between “go for it” and “wait for it” does not divide the human race, it runs right down the middle of the personalities of most of us.
Indecision is yet another state of being – often leaving us hung up in the yellow.
For a married couple I know, yellow may finally end their marriage.
He’s a “go-for-it” and she’s a “wait-for-it” and they commonly end up on the opposite side of an intersection because he made it to the curb across the street and she stayed behind on the curb where they were when the light turned yellow.
Their marriage won’t end in divorce. Oh, no.
They dearly love each other and have for a long time.
But one day he will “go-for-it”, get half way across the street, stop, and turn back to be with her.
At the same time, she will have launched herself out to catch up with him.
And there they will stand, panicked, locked in indecision and affection, wide-eyed in the middle of oncoming traffic.
And that’s when a bus runs over both of them . . .
No, but you can imagine how life goes on with them . . living in the yellow.”