A few weeks ago, just after backing out of the driveway (our neighborhood still has side drives) I was hit with a morning blast of unnecessary rudeness. Such a lovely way to start the day.
A car bossing it’s way down our street for sure wasn’t going to give way. It barrelled at me so close I had to back down the street in order to let it pass. “Really?!,” I might have muttered, then added “…well, Good Morning & happy day to you” even though the driver absolutely couldn’t hear.
BUT as he passed and as I waited, tempted to give that driver a glare for good measure, I was handed the opportunity to look up — to see the sky, literally bursting forth in glory, the sun shining through a stunning blanket of clouds. It was a glorious glimpse — a flash, since nature’s most incredible moments move in and out almost instantly. Somehow I grabbed a pic (above #nofilter) which allowed me to linger in that moment that had quickly snapped me back to reality.
Looking up re-framed the whole situation. Looking up offered the opportunity to see a bit beyond my moment to a much bigger picture.
My heart melted from no-you-di’nt to compassion. I had no idea what could be causing that car to speed through the morning street. Especially at the beginning of a day. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. The pause prompted a quick prayer for the car’s driver and for me – that I’d be faster to react with mercy rather than indignation.
Even though my backing up to let the car through (begrudgingly practicing kindness) might have been forced at that moment, my attitude changed to a genuine please-go-first. Which was interesting that the entire situation could be changed by a mind-shift. Where and how our thoughts are anchored proves much more powerful than we may realize.
Thoughts freed from indignation sought another place to land.
In that moment, it was easy to be mindful of the fact that I have a lot for which to be grateful. Seriously, who cares if a suburban street stand-off forced someone (me!) to back-down. My goodness. I’m in a car (not walking!) on my way to the grocery store (where I can buy fresh eggs, cold milk, frozen waffles, countless necessities from nice people) on a hot summer morning (the heat fires up fast in these parts). I’m in an air-conditioned car just shy of the 200K mile-mark, faithfully still working, transporting our family on countless errands and trips, surviving multiple new-drivers who may or may not bump a curb here and there. I could go on….
Dare I share the story of one student driver who was so frustrated by narrow streets, huge dips in the road and a host of backseat drivers shouting instructions and groans of agony that said driver might have gone from drive-gear to park without actually stopping? I’m still not sure how our amazing car survived that incident. I can almost hear the noise it made if I listen closely. We’ve apologized to the car many times.
So grateful for it – and quite frankly even more thankful for the kids who have learned how to drive in it. How did I get to be the one to get to walk life next to them? Highs and lows and all the in-betweens – words fail me.
Maybe that’s why practicing gratitude is so powerful. The mind-shift is undeniable, quickly morphing into a flood of good thoughts and perspective.
That quick re-boot did what it always does: ushered in peace. Then joy came along for the ride. And crazy thing – they stayed around a few days. All from that simple shift.
I shared the incident on my social media since I don’t what to forget, something I might be prone to do. And a Facebook friend smiled and offered perspective:
…we once made the terrible error of thinking we were close enough to the ER to just drive my son who was in extreme need of medical attention. The number of honks we got! yikes!! and so unsafe for everyone involved!!
I try to remember that now as i drive when someone cuts me off or speeds by – no idea what is hidden in that back seat — but for real, we also learned to call an ambulance – LITERALLY, their job.
What could have stolen moments out of my day – grumbling, frustration, resentment, self-pity, and such — vanished, gone — was replaced by an actual boost of positivity, grounded in truth (people matter, even/maybe especially bossy-car people) that put fuel in my tank. A special fuel that keeps giving and boosting throughout the day, sometimes several days.
What if that could happen more often than we think? It’s so easy to run on empty. Worries, pressures, stresses and expectations face us down every day – just like that oncoming car bossed its way into my morning, stealing thoughts and for sure sapping joy. But, what if we could add boosts into our daily diet, like soul-food that sits ready to energize and fill to overflowing rather than sap
So – I’ve been toying with the idea of putting this experience into practice. Out of curiosity, wondering what would happen if I/we (because I’m volunteering my family, a few friends and anyone who would like to join) started a cleanse of sorts. But instead of a fast – a feast.
What kind of feast? Exactly what occurred in the car that morning. A soul-feast, snacks made up of reminders. Dining on these soul-snacks individually we know is good, but the feast occurs when they’re put and practiced together:
- Kindness: seeing and loving others
- Gratitude: calling out hope in every situation
- Mercy: compassion and forgiveness toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm (even ourselves) because “it’s not worth being mad” (quote from my 18yo who amazingly gives people a break!)
The plan: a 40-day feast. Practice and take note of these three “snacks” together each day for 40 days. Forty is a solid number for a fast, so why not a feast… and with science unsure about the number of days it takes to form a new habit (formerly 21, currently 66) – 40 is a close-enough spit of the difference.
Want to play?
Thanks for walking the road with me – for putting up with some solid silence for a while as well another hair-brained idea.
this just in…. my friend Brenda who happily jumped in to play started our Heart Cleanse yesterday when I meant to post this. But, as is the case in my life, I got distracted. — Come join us – as you are, when you can.