Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wake Up Calls and Other Reminders

If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher. Pema Chodron

My mind is skipping around judgment. I am driving back from a meeting when the object of my ire crosses in front of me.

He is an older gentleman. Red puffy ski-jacket unzipped. Big winter galoshes untied. He takes a drag on his cigarette, steps off the curb into the intersection just as the light to 'go' turns green for traffic. He doesn't care. He just starts walking across the street in front of the still stopped traffic.

We wait.

He saunters.

He reaches the other side where I am waiting, steps up and over the curb and collected snow and ice in the gutter onto the sidewalk and continues on his way.

Traffic begins to move.

Fortunately, he didn't saunter so slowly everyone missed the light!  Whew! I mean, how awful would that have been? To actually miss a light!  No way!

I get to another intersection just as the light in front of me turns red. I stop. Bet I could have made it if that man hadn't been so....

I decide to not call him names.

I decide I'd best let it go. See if there's a lesson in it for me.

And there is. I wonder about his children. If he has taught them to obey traffic signals or to ignore them, regardless of the danger.

I think about all the children in the world who do not receive loving guidance. And through all my thinking, I absolutely do not think about judgments. About judging others. About criticising, condemning and complaining.

No way.

I am being constructive here. thinking about the children of the world and what they need.

I'm not judging. I'm just being real honest about what I see.

The light turns green. I wait, watching oncoming traffic until it's safe for me to turn left. There's a gap in the flow of traffic,

Gotta use that gap. I zip through the intersection...

And almost hit a young woman crossing the street.

I slam on my breaks. Where did she come from?  My eyes go moucho wide with alarm.

I wave my hands, asking for forgiveness and scoot through -- there's a car bearing down on me coming through the intersection.

Bless them. Forgive me.

I am shaken. Rattled.

Focussed on another's wrong-doing, I have not been paying attention to my doing.

I almost hit someone.

I carry the guilt and sadness with me, the critter of self-criticism lurks to attention. Yeehaw!  Let's have a field day in the garden of guilt.


Let's have a field day in the garden of forgiveness.

Let's not beat ourselves up. Let's commit to doing better. To paying attention. To letting go of judgment and criticism and 'I can fix the world if you'd just do it my way' thinking.'

Let's be present.

And so I breathed. Bless them. Forgive me.

Yes, I almost hit a woman -- I didn't.

It was a good wake up call.

That man in the intersection is a good teacher.

He reminded me to stay focused on what I'm doing, to pay attention and stay present in the moment with a loving and forgiving heart.

Thank you sir!


Anonymous said...


I like that you used 'breaks' instead of 'brakes'. Not sure if that was an intentional typo, but the metaphor of catching such a break, to avoid disaster, is a lucky break ...

good lessons and reminders for all of us


S. Etole said...

Feeling the tension and the wisdom in this.

Fi said...

Driving in Bali will forever make me mindful of pedestrian traffic - over there the traffic is mostly scooters and it's beyond horrendous.
The rule is if you're going to cross the road - just do it, do not make eye contact with any drivers of cars or scooters because they will go around you provided they think you haven't seen them.
Not sure where this little bit of wisdom came from - kinda scary rule really

Josie Two Shoes said...

I've found myself in very similar situations and it is indeed a good wake-up call! It is so easy to grumble about others, and yet we have such a great need to be present in our own thoughts and actions!

Jennifer Richardson said...

I can so so relate.
"lets have a field day
in the garden of forgiveness".
Oh how I love that:)
thanks for the beautiful