Published this week in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch.
I do not cross Hatch Rd and Santa Fe Ave every day, but when I do so now, it feels surreal to travel through without stopping. This past year, like many Hughson residents, we chose our route home based on how far the cars on Santa Fe backed up behind the stop sign at 5 p.m. We loved how free and open Geer Road was, but did not love how far out of the way it took us. Whitmore Ave was not bad, but when you live closer to Hatch, the extra miles felt longer than they ought.
The project to put in a stoplight came up because it was needed. A problem arose out of a good change, more people living in Hughson. The city had to adjust. Good happens, tension arises, and the whole organism adjusts. Much like what happens in everyone’s life, whether a new marriage, a new baby, a new home, or a new job.
Adjustment is painful. It hurts to adjust because we stretch and strain our capabilities, finding new ways to make the changes work with the rest of our lives.
First, they closed the intersection for the roadwork. That was painful. It seemed closed a long time. It reopened and the city had to wait for Caltrans to do their work. Then the rains came. When the region dried out, the city waited again for Caltrans. That work happened. The intersection closed and the city picked up their paint cans.
How do we wait well when someone around us is adjusting to a change? I emailed Jaylen French, the Community Development Director, to ask about the road. He explained the process, the goodness and inconvenience of rain, and the steps to complete the project. If someone in your life is adjusting to a change, and it impacts you, it may be okay to simply ask him for the information you cannot see yourself.
“How are you adjusting to X?”
“Tell me more about your plans.”
When I know more about the person’s experience, I understand him better, and I find it easier to be patient. It is true that knowledge can only go so far. By and large, the bulk of waiting well comes from choices we make.
We can make choices in perspective: what new experiences have you had since the change? I experienced the peace of driving on rural roads rather than the congested Ceres section of Hatch Road. An antique I had my eye on was on clearance at Selective Antiques. Without the road closure, I would not have seen it. If your partner is working long hours at a new job, maybe this gives you more time to learn a new skill or have one-on-one experiences tucking your kids into bed. There may be an unlooked-for good as you wait.
We can make a choice to be patient. I grow impatient when I want things done in my time frame. My time seems to move more quickly than my husband’s time. Often, I need to recalibrate my expectations to what is realistic. It may feel like days have passed since I emailed. In reality, it has only been 24 hours and the etiquette is to allow 48 hours for a business response to an email. If the person does not know this etiquette, I must adjust my expectations even more. Sometimes, patience is a matter of letting go. I let go of worry, let go of my urgency, and focus on the potential positive good.
We can make a choice to be merciful. Maybe it should have been completed sooner. Maybe California’s bureaucracy is too cumbersome, and it slows things down. It can be good to recognize where weaknesses lie (especially in ourselves) so long as we do not allow them to overwhelm our experience. When we let the thoughts of how hard or inconvenient it takes over, it is all too easy to forget how temporary the situation is. It was not always this way. One day it will be better. Now we have a traffic light.
After the thing is all over, I can grow by asking myself, “did I wait well?”