300 Miles to Compassion

After doing some travelling the past few days I have determined that I cannot wait for a penitential season to address a personal and pressing problem. I am not proud of this personal weakness. But I am savvy enough to recognize that I don’t like it.

And, I bet you agree that sometimes other drivers can be very irritating. VERY irritating. So, the other day, I am crawling my way down the highway in the midst of road construction. There is a whole open lane blocked off for no apparent reason. And this car starts weaving into the closed part, speeding ahead until they come to a barrier, weaving back in to my lane. Going a few feet to the other side of the barrier, and repeating the same thing.

Wow.

I was immediately enraged. So does it count as being enraged if no one else sees it? Like a tree falling in the forest? I was not only yelling at the transgressor, but also the people who were letting the car back in. I thought s/he might not be so bold if they had to cool their jets for a while, like maybe 20 or 30 minutes, before someone let them back into traffic. We were all in a hurry for heaven’s sake!

It took about 300 miles for me to start thinking with some compassion. What if they were sick, or trying to get to the hospital, or had to go to the bathroom, or were in pain, or…whatever?? A few months back, in a previous attempt to conquer this “road irrationality” (it seems extreme to call it rage), I started calling the drivers who I thought were not being safe with names of affection like “dearie” or “sister” or “friend”. Not in a pejorative way, but in an act of solidarity. Because sometimes I am a bad driver too.  That helped. But I think I have to up my game.

“Giving up” my road irrationality will take time. But it seems that if I have promised to find the good in people, that drivers should count too. I am not a perfect driver, and so I have to make space to love other imperfect drivers. Maybe I will start with tolerating them…with affection.

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