So, the other day, I was driving home from picking up my 3 year old from school. I had worked all day, the other half of my family was sick at home, and it was just a cold, rainy, dreary afternoon. On the highway near my house, there comes a point where the left lane becomes a turn-only lane. A certain segment of the driving population uses this turn-only lane as a speed-up and-cut-off-the-person-on-the-right-at-the-very-last-moment lane. I am not proud of it but I tend to ride the bumper of the person in front of me on this portion of the highway because I am infuriated when people cut me off. When they inevitably do, the stories I tell myself are: “What? Does this person think his life is more important than everyone else’s? Really? What right does he have to endanger me and my family so that he can get to where he is going more quickly?...” and so on. In other words, I cause myself suffering by getting angry and taking their (illegal, mind you) vechicular maneuvers as a personal attack.
On this particular drive home, a dude in a Mazda Z in the left lane decided to cut me off despite my futile attempts to accelerate and nearly kiss the bumper of the car in front of me. I reacted and blew my horn. My 3 year old daughter piped up and asked, “What was that, Mommy?” in which I promptly replied, “That was an asshole.” “Asshole?” she asked in her sweet, angelic, innocent little voice. When I didn’t immediately respond, my darling daughter went into repeat mode: “Asshole, asshole, asshole…”. There it was: my moment of clarity in the form of a metaphorical slap on the head. Way to be Mindful, Jess.
Of course, it was kind of funny. And after this realization, I did not waste energy beating myself up about my mistake. I learned a valuable lesson however: my children are ALWAYS watching me. What did I just teach my daughter? It wasn’t compassion, loving-kindness, forgiveness, or responding rather than reacting. I taught her to be reactive, angry, and selfish. I apologized and told her the way I acted was wrong. I think she already instinctively knew that, though.
We are all human, imperfect, a perpetual work-in-progress. That is why we named our company North Georgia Mindfulness PROJECT. As long as we show up everyday and try our best to be kind, non judgemental, and responsive rather than reactive, we are doing okay. If that doesn’t happen, that’s okay too because we are now more mindful of our mistakes. And to the dude in the Mazda Z, my next loving-kindness meditation has your name written all over it. So there.