On my way home, I move with the traffic. Kids and buses everywhere. There are seven school very close to the road I take home. Going home can feel like an obstacle course. Some days are worse than others.
Looping through the new rotaries, I enjoy the back and forth movement of the van. It’s the little things. I look in my rear view mirror to see a young man with his cap bill facing backwards. He is in a hurry. I am not going fast enough. As I make another graceful loop, he honks because he can, not because he is actually communicating anything to me other than that he thinks I’m too slow. He is wrong. I know he is wrong. I can’t make this impatience of his right no matter how I try. “You’re an idiot,” I say quietly under my breath.
Irritation fills me. I consider going slower. Then, I realize how ridiculous it is for me to get upset with him for his getting upset with me. This is how negative interactions begin. If I get irritated with his irritation am I being an idiot? I don’t like this line of thinking. It puts the responsibility back on me. I’d rather be irritated with the irritator even though its doesn’t make sense. GrrrrH! I’ve thought myself into a hole. I hate when that happens.
The impulse to go slower just to spite him is very strong. Mr. Speedy Pants is still on my tail. How I want to teach him a lesson. Can you teach patience with impatience? Not very likely.
What’s wrong with me? I seem stuck in the same juvenile level as the person dogging me. This is no big deal. I’m safe. I’m going the speed limit. Chances are I’m going to make it home in one piece, my arms and legs in the same condition as when I began this little trip home. Why do I want to stop the car and give this kid a piece of my mind? The more I fight against it the more tempting it is.
Finally, he turns left. Relief floods through me and I think about mindless nothings.
The late afternoon finds me running here and there. Everywhere I go there is a new wrinkle or road block. Finally, I am within 2 miles of the refuge of home when I round a corner and find a young boy on a bike in the middle of the expressway heading toward me. A bike trail is yards away. He is traveling in the dangerous no-mans land of a highway. No helmet and seemingly no idea that his sudden hurtling in front of me is a breach of sanity not to mention traffic laws. Windows down, I brake in time and say loudly, “Oh, my God.” Didn’t exactly feel like a prayer but it was. I was so grateful I didn’t hit him. The boy haltingly crosses the 4 lanes of traffic continuing to put himself in danger. Maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe he doesn’t understand.
“I wonder if his mom knows what he’s doing right now?” I think to myself.
Then I hear, “she probably doesn’t but this mom does and was careful.”
This mom is me.
The boy on the bike was lucky, I was quick and paying attention. My Mr. Speedy Pants was lucky he was dogging me and not some one who might have gotten out of the car and really let him have it. I’m pretty sure they had no idea how lucky they were. Their actions reflected their choices and my actions reflected mine even though I might have felt like retaliating, my calmer self prevailed.
I can’t teach patience with impatience.
I can’t avoid the reckless if I’m being reckless.
For several hours this afternoon, people kept giving me opportunities to do the right thing. This choosing to take the high road didn’t feel good. By the time I got home, I felt like I was coming home from a tour of duty. So I stole a few moments here and there to write and in the process discovered that today I gave several people the benefit of having crossed paths with me. They received the gift of my tolerance. From them, I received a very important lesson.
It was me today, my perception, my struggle to do the right thing. There are a lot of people like me. There are people better than me. Most of us are just trying to do the best we can. Some days are harder than others. Today, it was me and it was a good thing.