It started as a typical morning dog walk. Roxy, Astro and I were on our usual neighborhood route which includes crossing a higher-traffic street. As I approached the intersection, a car with windows down and music blaring approached as well. While the law in Oregon is that all corners are to be considered de facto crosswalks, I sensed this person wasn’t going to stop. Just in case, as we approached the corner I signaled to the driver with a little wave that they could keep going, not to wait for us.
As he passed, he flipped me off.*
I felt the ire and irritation immediately. WTF dude? I didn’t flip him off in return (progress!), but for the next several blocks I stewed.
Why would he do that? Did he think I was being passive aggressive by waving him past? Could he sense that I was irritated by the blaring music at 7am? What would make someone react that way unprompted? I began to seethe.
So I stopped. I allowed the dogs to sniff for a bit (or as we say in our house, check their “pee mail”) and did a quick body scan. I could feel his negative energy seeping into me. It felt like a flush of heat settling into my throat, shoulders and arms. My heart rate was elevated and my brow was furrowed. I closed my eyes for a moment and allowed a little softness to enter.
From a deep nook in my brain the words of the loving kindness meditation I have practiced for years floated into my consciousness:
May all beings be safe. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings find peace.
To which my ego responded: UGH.
WHY? Why do I need to offer him loving kindness? He was a jerk! I have a right to be annoyed!
But the inner wisdom kept at it, reminding me that we can choose what we do with others’ energy. We can let it go or, if we’re feeling particularly mindful, transform it by tapping into the universal well of compassion. We can never know the battles others are facing, and I have likely benefited from others’ wishes for peace, even when my actions did not merit benevolence. I convinced my ego to take a back seat and as I allowed kindness to prevail, I found myself (begrudgingly) granting grace.
*The driver had a beard, hence the switch to “he” pronouns, though I am aware that is also an assumption.
DPS Video: Start with the body, move to the mind
In order to tap into grace—even begrudgingly—I have found that I often need to start with the body before trying to adjust my thoughts or emotions. Here is a six minute talk on this topic by yours truly! Photos from Oceanside, OR.
(other) Smart People
“I do not at all understand
the mystery of grace
only that it meets us where we are
but does not leave us where it found us.” —Anne Lamott
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