‘I am grateful to the difficult people in my life- they have shown me exactly who I do not want to be.’
I have a longstanding routine of waking up early on Sunday mornings and going out to do my weekly grocery shopping. This routine, which consists of visiting 3-4 grocery stores, began under duress when we were forced to adopt a gluten free diet for our son three years ago, but has since turned into a cherished part of my week. When I leave the house it’s still dark outside, everyone is sound asleep, and when I arrive to the stores they are pretty well empty. With no one at home awaiting my quick return, and no one jostling for space next to me in the stores, these Sunday mornings are about as close to leisurely as my life ever gets….
So this last Sunday morning having just survived another Christmas, I was feeling particularly relaxed as I approached my second of four stops. It was just after 8am and the temperature outside was a mere 18 degrees. The parking lot glistened with a fine layer of ice and I was driving accordingly.
Suddenly from behind me came a car that was moving anything but cautiously. He pulled close to my bumper and made his impatience known immediately. As I slowly lurched forward toward the next speed bump he revved his engine in protest, sped up and swerved around me. His hostility was palpable.
He quickly parked in a spot adjacent to where I was heading and as he got out of his car he looked over at me and glared outright. I was amazed that my actions had garnered such abject rage from him. Rather than glaring back I tried to look for the deeper meaning in the experience.
It took no more than a split second of introspection to allow me to come to terms with the truth that I have been that man- I have been hostile, I have been ridiculously impatient with strangers, and I have cast my share of dirty looks toward people who have nothing at all to do with my negative inner state.
I wondered to myself what life had delivered to him to give him such an overtly nasty state of mind… one that was clearly spilling out everywhere in his world. In reality it did not matter- because none of us ever have the right to spew our darkness out upon anyone else- yet sometimes we still do.
I pondered this concept as I headed into the market, and as fate would have it, I ended up face to face with him on one of the aisles. Again he glared at me and shook his head in disgust as he shouldered past me like I had the plague. It was hard to believe that I had unwittingly evoked such strong feelings in this man.
The experience as a whole was unpleasant, yet I ended up feeling grateful. His behavior made me take a hard look at aspects of myself that I know can emerge- have in-fact emerged, at times, in my own life.
Remember, this whole thing played out on Sunday morning- my hallowed time of the week- the one spot every seven days where I have a few hours of breathing room. My quiet state of mind allowed me a moment of introspection that made all the difference. But what if this same thing had happened to me during my work week? What if I had run into Mr. Nasty at 5pm when I was exhausted from an intense day of seeing clients, in a hurry to get home to cook dinner for a hungry family, and juggling a hundred other things that all needed to get done before I could even think of laying my head on a pillow for the night?
If this had been my circumstance, I am guessing I would have been more than willing to go toe to toe with him and behave just as badly as he did. Maybe even worse.
Ugh! Self awareness- it’s not always pretty- but we can’t grow without it. The bottom line is this; My Sunday mornings are great practice- but what counts- is being able to stay in my higher self when life sends me into the game for real.
Put me in coach- I’m ready to play….