What a Great Idea! Right?

Anyone can sing in the car on long trips. The Dutch took it one step further.

According to Reuters, the highway near the Dutch city of Jelsum will play a song when you drive over the rumble strips. Not just any song, either. When you hit the strips at 40 mph, the road will ring out with the anthem of Friesland, a northern region of the Netherlands. Imagine if a stretch of US-287 suddenly started playing “Rocky Mountain High” and you’ll have the idea.

It was brilliant. And also insane. Because what sounds cool when one car drives over one stretch of road every now and then, becomes chaos when a regular stream of traffic travels the same road at all hours and at varying speeds.

“Locals say the musical road had created a never-ending cacophony that keeps them awake at night,” Reuters reported, briefly quoting one neighbor who got to continually listen to the anthem at high speed in the early hours one night when a long string of taxis chose to blaze across the rumble strips.

The strips will soon be removed. And the Dutch get to join a long line of people in singing one of humanity’s oldest anthems: “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.”

You know this song. So do I. It’s not the song of the moments that are inattentive and clueless, like the time I walked off the stage and into the orchestra pit on Opening Night in mid-song (a matter now part of Longmont Theatre Company legend). No, these are the ones with a little thought and a lot of optimism, deliberate choices that felt really good until the consequences started to kick in.

For me, it was the night I tried driving home from Garden City, Kans. on a single tank of gas, figuring I could refuel in Bennett instead of my usual Kansas stop in Goodland. Great idea – except it was late in the day on a holiday weekend when I arrived and the gas station was closed. The result was increasingly urgent prayer as I ultimately arrived in Hudson – and an open Conoco station – on fumes.

For our disabled ward Missy, it might be the decision that her Big Purse always has room for one more item. Great idea – until it suddenly contains half the known universe. The result is a purse that she’s reluctant to leave behind but often asks someone else to carry on trips.

For my wife Heather – well, she married me, didn’t she? (Just kidding … I think.)

At its best, it’s born of an admirable capacity – the human ability to imagine something worthwhile and then put out the effort to make it happen. The trouble comes when hope and sweat are divorced from judgment and reflection. That’s when the weird things happen.

When we’re lucky, the worst it produces is embarrassment, expense, and an unforgettable story.

When we’re not so lucky, the results can be tragic. On a national scale, it can even mean lives disrupted or lost, regions devastated, and seemingly-endless wars begun – though in that last case, the anthem’s title is usually rephrased to “What Else Could I Do?”

A great question. But one that’s usually never asked until after it’s already too late.

I believe in hope and imagination. I believe in making the best decision you can from the information you have, rather than being paralyzed because you can’t make the perfect choice. But I also believe that’s a different thing from not considering consequences at all, just because what you want to do seems so compelling or necessary.

Consequences have to be considered. And if they’re not faced before the choice is made, they certainly will be after.

At that point, it’s best to learn from the Dutch. Acknowledge what happened. Fix it as soon as possible. Learn from it. And move on down the road.

Because sometimes you just have to change your tune.

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