It’s Already Green

A school friend once told me a story about someone pulling up behind a car at a red light. The group of friends was on their way to a night out, and everyone in the car was feeling a bit feisty. Suddenly, one guy opened his window and yelled (in German): “EY! Grüner wirds nicht!!” What translates roughly as “it won’t get any greener” is usually a playful way of letting someone know they’re falsely idling at a traffic light, but in this case, the person in front panicked so much, they just floored it and drove off — except the light was still red. Supposedly the intersection was completely empty, and everyone had a good laugh.

If not as a prank-gone-okay, I think we can most likely file this story under “never actually happened,” but the message transcends — and is actually much more useful in non-traffic settings. “You are ready in your starting blocks,” Julia Engelmann sings in Grüner wird’s nicht, a song taking our funny idiom a little less literally. “Tell me, what are you waiting for all this time?”

It’s true. Why wait? Why wait to approach the person you know has already noticed you too in the library? Why launch your blog in six months if you can launch it this weekend? Why save for a camera if you can start with your phone today? “You say others are blocking your happiness,” Julia continues, “but no one except you is holding you back.” In traffic? Perhaps. In life? It won’t get any greener. We might idle, but all lights have long been set to “Go!

“You have to live — you are not being lived,” Julia goes on. “You’ll only stand still if you don’t go, so just carry the rocks out of the way.” Not all roads in life are straight, but there’s a path to wherever we’re trying to go — and if we have to move some stones to clear it, so be it. Drive safely, and remember: The most important destinations in life can’t be reached by car, but the signal lights you’re waiting for are already green.