Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Traffic patterns

I drove my daughter into the Cities this morning and coming back on Highway 10 I thought about traffic patterns. You rarely see a uniform density of cars spread out along the highway. Instead, they seem to travel in clumps. There's a rare loner out there, but most of the time on multi-lane highways you see clusters, clumps, gaggles and herds of cars.

Schedules are like that, too.

Strangely enough for me as a pastor, December is almost always a "light" month for me. It's not supposed to be that way for pastors, I know, but due to a few different factors my December is almost always a light month. It's a little like that long stretch of highway where you only see two or three "loner" cars. (Partly my December is like that because I resist the temptation to say "yes" to every Christmas / Advent / Winter event I'm invited to.)

I enjoy a quiet week after Christmas, making sure I get out bowhunting a few days. (No venison this year, by the way. Sad, but we'll make do with beef.) New Years tends to be the get-together for my side of the family, and this year was no exception. So we had the large but laid back gathering at our house on New Year's Day. Good stuff.

Then comes the first week in January, and it's like you just hit one of those herds of cars blocking all conceivable lines of traffic. There are more vehicles, all of a sudden, than you can reasonably explain. It's like coat hangers -- they just come out of nowhere and suddenly your closet is overpopulated.

That's how my schedule in January is. Every year. So I'm looking at my calendar for the next four weeks and thinking, "How on earth ...?"

To top it off, today I had to cancel a speaking engagement at the local high school's World History classes -- one I was really anticipating -- on the Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire. My perfect record of no colds this season just went down the tubes, and I don't trust myself to put in six hours of speaking, even if it's over two days. So we'll bump that to next week. (Thankfully the teachers had some leeway and were able to reschedule.)

The effect of this, in terms of highway traffic, is like the guy in the one-ton truck with the duals and the acetylene torch on the back hitting his brakes at the front end of the glut of cars. Everybody slows down and tries to change lanes at once. And you ask yourself, why did he hit his brakes? Was there something in the road I missed? Did he think that was his turn? Maybe he had a fit of coughing (more my speed today with this cold) and felt the need to slow down.

Hard to say.

But now traffic patterns are slowed down, frustration levels are higher, and blood pressures are bouncing off the dome lights. Rescheduling those two half-days into next week's schedule will be a little like throwing a big rock into a shallow, muddy pond. (Could I possibly mix any more metaphors in here?)

I try hard to make sure I've still got a day here and there when I can just rest -- put my feet up, read a good book, take a nap. But for some reason, those days are a lot harder to find in January than they were a month ago.

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