It was one of those situations ripe with an opportunity to be compassionate. And I didn’t even bite. I’m driving home from the grocery store, leisurely mind you since I had NO ONE in the car with me for the first time in forever and I wanted to savor every second! One block from home neighborhood kids are riding their trikes in the street. I slow down as they clear off to the side. Where upon Dad feels the need to stand in the middle of the street with his hands out as the self appointed traffic cop to ensure that I stop completely. Then as I proceed past his house and the next few houses before mine he motions that I should slow down.
I was completely enraged by this man’s act. And at first I wasn’t sure why. But I’ve concluded that likely it’s because he wrongly assumed ineptitude on my part. As a mom myself I was driving more than reasonably around the kids, and I didn’t need Dad out there directing me, when he should be teaching his kids how to stay out of the street.
But whatever, it doesn’t even matter why it upset me. It did and I let it get to me so much that I really had and still have less than pure thoughts about what I would say to this man should I meet him face to face.
What I didn’t do was take time to recognize any sense of what he may have been feeling. Ok, we all want to protect our kids, that’s a given. Maybe he’d had a bad experience with a not-so-careful driver and one of his children. Maybe he’s trying to save the planet by not driving and is therefore leery of all cars. All admirable reasons to stand in the middle of the street and force me to stop…even if I disagree with his actions. Then again, maybe he’s just a frustrated control freak – point is, it doesn’t matter why he did what he did. What mattered was that I let him control my anger, which blocked me from even considering a compassionate response.
Compassion isn’t just about feeling for those who have less or need your help. To truly be compassionate I would have been able to put myself in the shoes of a man that I had the urge to get out of my car and punch. To rise above my own knee jerk reactions and consider other options. Obviously not there yet!