Driving in and around Atlanta is an adventure, a kaleidoscope of traffic and close calls. I stopped at a red light last week, looked to my left and as I turned my head and pulled forward, I had the faintest glimpse of an approaching vehicle moving into the lane I was entering. Too late for me to stop. Too late for me to see there was no shoulder as I veered to the right, and, at a time when the best split-second decision might have been to accelerate, my foot hit the brake instead.
The driver pulled back into his original lane and kept going. He did not honk, glare, gesture or even frown from his convertible, its top down in the unseasonably warm weather.
We all make mistakes. Remembering that fact increases my ability to offer patience, grace and kindness to myself and others in times of stress, and sometimes while sitting in traffic, I look around and consider how every car contains one or more fellow human beings with their own schedules, plans, memories, hopes and dreams. The accident which generates a one-hour or two-hour delay may be labeled an inconvenience or frustration if we forget it is, to another person or people, a truly bad moment, a worst day or even a tragedy. I can bless the person ahead of me driving 10 miles under the speed limit because that driver might be an unintentional angel, delivering me to my destination at just the right time to run into an old friend or to cross paths with the non-fiction author who becomes my next content editing client.
When someone tailgates me, perhaps he sees only an obstacle to his scheduled arrival instead of someone trying to drive safely in a construction zone. I want to see him, not his behavior, and I want to remember that getting upset gets me nowhere. Road rage has a remedy. As a kid riding with my grandmother, I listened to her invent stories assigning good motives to every reckless driver. If someone nearly drove us off the road, she would say that perhaps the car’s passenger was having a baby, and they were just in a hurry to get to the hospital.
Like all humans, I lose touch with my patience at times. The easiest way for me to restore that patience – and with it, my peace of mind – is to see people, to send them some blessings and to write them some good stories.