I heard Deepak Chopra speak many years ago when I was a PA student at Duke. It was a silent snowy day and campus was eerily quiet. I didn't see a soul until I entered the SRO auditorium and even then there was a subdued atmosphere, everyone whispering in hushed tones and huddled together for warmth.
The topic of his lecture is lost to me now but there is one thing that remains with me from that night. He was talking about road rage and our hurried life style in this country; how we are always rushing to and fro, how what we are all about is more important than anyone else's business. He challenged us to think about the person in the car that cuts us off, the car that won't let us pass, the driver that flips us the bird. He challenged us to consider what their emergency is. Maybe, just maybe, they are in crisis and have fewer tools in their tool box than we do. Maybe, just maybe, they are in need of grace and we can give it to them. Maybe, just maybe, they are going somewhere more important than we are. Maybe, just maybe, we can exhale and let them go by us and we will be better off for having done so.
Yesterday I was returning a video to the Red Box at 7/11 and I couldn't find a parking space in the lot. There was a pick up truck blocking the lane and a red-faced young kid was shouting at the driver to move her ass out of the way, waving his arms and swearing a blue-streak the whole time. The driver was so flustered in her attempts to do so that she backed up over the curb into the bushes. As I found a spot way out of the way and walked over to the rental return I crossed by her and saw her crying. Her passenger called out to me, "Excuse me, can you help us?"
It turns out they had been driving around for over an hour looking for a street that was several miles away. He was overdue for dialysis and had missed his bus so his wife was driving him -- she spoke no English and he was legally blind and couldn't drive himself. They were so far out of their element. I rummaged around in my car, found a highlighter and wrote directions on a paper plate. Hopefully they made it to their destination.
I thought of Deepak.
I thought of all the times people had stopped to help Phil and I.
And I thought of all the times I've been disappointed by people who can't see beyond themselves.
It's pretty simple. As my snarky and wonderfully loving friend Anita posted yesterday on her Facebook Status: "Guide to not being an asshole: Don't be an asshole.
Love wins every time.