Do I live in rose-colored glasses?
I don’t think so. Perhaps some of the time?
I do, however, believe that we humans are inherently good.
I believe we aspire to do our best with what we know at a given point in time.
I mean, I don’t do ‘it’ right all the time…that’s for damn sure.
I want to, and then things get messy…‘cause fear…‘cause hurt…‘cause past experiences…‘cause triggers…and rather than reacting the way I hope my forty-nine year old self would, the nine year old child in there rears her head and takes over my body to snatch back what is mine, or sock someone in the arm, or break the toy so NO ONE can play with it! Yeah, despite all the work, all the observance of self, all the perceived growth, all the yoga in the world, the kid takes over and as a result I react in “old-me” ways that do NOT represent “new-me” understandings.
But the triggers…right?
The struggle is REAL, as they say.
And, it is relative for each of us. Perhaps our responses, our reactions to LIFE are relative to the amount of pain we’ve experienced. Perhaps they’re relative to the amount of hurt we’ve felt. Perhaps we just lack the processing skills, the tools necessary to pause, to breathe, to rationalize our reactions and instead we just lose our shit.
Case in point…
A couple weeks ago, a guy came barreling up on me on NE Broadway. I wasn’t movin’ down the road quickly enough and he was going at just the right speed for HIM. Fast AF. Not enjoying him riding on my bumper, I got over into the left lane. He then came up beside me in his big ol’ truck yelling and shaking a fist through the panes of glass while blasting his horn.
I thought honking was not permitted in Portland or you’d get escorted OUT!
Oh the times they are a’changin’.
I started to turn left onto 16th Street and peel off from this guy’s rant. From the middle lane, he decided to turn left too and cut me off. Freaked out a bit and trying to get out of the intersection, I pulled a little further up and started over to the right. Now coming up fast on my left, he “helped me” drive right off the road and nearly into Kitchen Kaboodle. I was stunned like a deer in the headlights. I rolled my window down and said, “WHAT IS going on?” That’s all I was able to get out of my mouth before his red-faced self, spewing and spitting expletives in mine and Addie’s direction, could find absolutely nothing to soothe himself from this exploding rage, except violence. It was then that he cocked back the only thing he had access to (thank God), he launched his giant and hot cup of coffee right at us. In the car, on the car, in my face, in my lap, all over Addie and me. Then, the tires squealed and he was OUT.
I looked around in complete shock for anyone’s support, help, commiseration. Everyone in the vicinity had their heads in their phones and noticed nothing out of the ordinary. No one got his license plate. And, after a few minutes of emotional recovery…I simply drove home with my feathers ruffled up AND soaked through.
This experience has been hard to shake.
Call me crazy but ever since this happened, I’ve been thinking of ways to share more kindness, to perpetuate more love, to offer more understanding, and hopefully provide – in some way – more opportunities for healing.
In a world that feels quick to rage, highly divisive, deafeningly noisy, irritably fast-paced and very crowded,
KINDNESS FEELS LIKE THE ANSWER.
Two nights ago my husband Michael and I accidentally stumbled on a documentary (not the one everyone’s watching right now but another one about Mister Rogers, called Mister Rogers & Me, A Deep and Simple Documentary Film, 2010).
I loved everything about it.
This documentary highlights the profound impact one person can have on the world by showing unconditional love and simple kindnesses, allowing people to feel seen, heard, loved and accepted.
“You know, I think everybody longs to be loved,
and longs to know that he or she is lovable.
And consequently, the greatest thing we can do is to help somebody
know they’re loved and capable of loving.”
– Mister Fred Rogers
I may never reconcile the road rage encounter in my mind or my heart. But, I seek the tools that might help me understand our humanness with all the goodness, all the pain, all the joy, all the anger.
As you might expect, I often turn to the philosophies of yoga for direction, for answers, for insight.
In this case, Ahimsa, non-violence or non-harming comes right to the forefront.
“Ahimsa, rightly understood, is the ultimate weapon; it turns one’s enemy into a friend, thereby banishing the possibility of further conflict. In the practice of yoga, it is important to understand that the same life flows in the veins of all creatures.” – Swami Kriyananda
And, one of my very favorite of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:
Maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhka punya apunya vasayanam bhavanatah cittaprasdanam.
Here are a few translations of the sutra:
“The mind becomes tranquil through the practice of friendliness toward the happy, compassion toward the miserable, joy toward the virtuous, and equanimity toward the non-virtuous.” – translation Gary Kissiah
“Calmness arises from friendship, empathy, delight, and equality towards others.“
– translation Matthew Remski
“Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favorably disposed, serene and benevolent.” – translation BKS Iyengar
That guy in the big truck got away from me. Not that there’s anything I could have done for him. I wish. And, I wish he had tools in his tool belt for dealing with that kind of anger. May yoga find him!
For now, what I can do is slow down, be kind, loving, present and do my best to SEE YOU, HEAR YOU, LOVE YOU.
Well, until my nine year old self is triggered again. 😉
Then, LOOK OUT!
We are like tuning forks and how we touch each other ripples out into the world…be it good or not so good.
We leave a sort of residue with each other at each encounter.
What will your residue be?
“There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
– Fred Rogers