So I pulled into a gas station to get gas yesterday and a woman backed into the space in front of me, slowly aiming her car’s rear end and subsequently her gas cap at the pump. The only problem, she didn’t pull in straight, and was jutting out into the space where I was soon to be forced to go around her. I finished filling, got in my car and as I started to pull out, I realized I wasn’t sure if I could fit between her and the curb that was on the other side of my car. I rolled down my window and said politely,
“Excuse me, I’m not sure that I can fit”.
She scrunched her face up as she walked to the front of my car, looked over the situation and said,
“You can fit”, in a smug, condescending way. She coolly walked back to her pump leaving me to precariously navigate her hasty parking job.
So why do I bring this up, why give it more of a thought or feed this negative situation with any of my precious energy? Because I think I learned something from it. I think, if we look hard enough, we always learn from mistakes, failures, and situations that challenge us. In a way this was a failure for me, and that’s ok. I failed because I allowed someone or something to matter too much. I allowed this person to make me feel stupid, incompetent, uncoordinated, and angry because I couldn’t navigate the small gap she left me.
So why not look at it the other way you might say. Why not say, “What a jerk! She could have been more compassionate and tried to help me”, or “She was probably having a bad day”. Or, maybe I could have simply moved on. Not looking at it either way. Wait, that’s what I learned? Simply move on? I think so.
I had this thought this morning on the way to work. I was imagining all the people in the world, all the agendas, bad days, good days, things to do, places to be on time, schedules to keep. All the energy, fair or unfair, good or bad, unhelpful or compassionate. I imagined all that energy as chaotic wind, swirling around me in circles. The more chaotic, the stronger the wind was, and the more it would blow my hair, send dust in my eyes, and push me in a direction I didn’t want to go. Or, conversely, the more it would push me forward, that feeling you get when running down a steep hill, or having a strong wind at your back. The feeling of being lifted forward.
I thought of this wind swirling around me and thought what if I could walk between the currents of wind, like slipping between two conflicting weather fronts, observing, showing compassion, but not judging others, and especially not judging myself. Being grateful for when I was lifted, but simply getting back up when it would knock me down. Thinking, it’s ok, it’s just the wind. I think the world would look different, not so scary, it is just wind after all.
I believe there are moments between the winds. Moments that we lose when we’re focused on trying to block the dust that is blowing and biting our face, when we’re angry and fighting the wind. Moments and opportunities to create our own wind that can push us and others around us forward.