This year, in my pursuit of being kinda-Catholic, I am again participating in giving something up for the Lenten season. I think that one of my more controllable flaws that I often choose not to control is my… shall we say… “volatility.” Friends will be (not at all) surprised to learn that I can tend to fly off the handle at seemingly minor issues. If the offending circumstance really pisses me off, right off that handle I will fly —if not physically and all-up-in-your-face, then in a downward and self-destructive mental spiral that just festers and stews until I am an utter disaster. But, as so many things are, most of it is internal (and even imagined and exacerbated) and therefore able to be handled on my own.
I had the first test of that Lenten resolution the other day.
As you may know from reading previous posts, while driving I tend to have more foes than friends on the road. From people driving too slowly in the left lane of the highway to those who think it’s unnecessary for them to use their blinkers or drivers who are just oblivious to any circumstances that are occurring outside of their car, for all my intents and purposes, nearly everyone is doing SOMETHING stupid on the road. This puts me in a place where I need to work hard to be mindful and control myself for at least 90 minutes each day during my daily commute.
During my morning drive, a stalled car was causing all traffic to merge into one lane. I stopped to let one poor sap move over in front of me, because I was feeling like a nice guy and the light ahead of me was red anyway. As the slow-as-hell gent merged over (with the nearby red light causing even more delay), I heard an angry honk and looked to my right to see another guy furiously gesturing to me to get going. He was waving his hands all up in the air like he didn’t care as well as moving his mouth like he was yelling something at me, and though I couldn’t quite make it out, I could guess from his unfriendly expression what he wanted to let me know. I looked forward, composed myself (to counteract my normal yell-y reactions), and I let the calm take over.
I looked at him gently, raised my right arm towards him, and raised up one finger. As I did that, I mouthed to him the one phrase that’s associated with that finger… “SHHHHHHHHHH!” That’s right… I shushed that b. He didn’t respond positively to my “shhh” (in fact, it might have made him become even more animated), so I threw in a “there there,” complete with accompanying motion (you know the one – pat pat pat). I smiled at him, looked ahead, and rolled my car forward as traffic started moving again.
I was proud of my calmly-ness, and though John Q Yelling-at-me didn’t benefit from my attempt to assuage our conflict, I sure did feel nice about it!
(Note: since I have to actually consciously try to play nice on the road, I was back to my normal fast-paced shenanigans in no time. However, I am glad to say that I’ve had very few episodes of fury lately in the streets of San Antonio!)