If we learn nothing else in this life we have been given, I hope we all learn to be empathetic to what others might be going through.
We have a tendency to assume that whatever is happening in our own lives extends to everyone around us. Have you ever been in a hurry and the person driving in front of you can’t even go the speed limit? It feels like they have all of the time in the world and you are about to miss the most important meeting of your life. Or perhaps you are totally in tune with what is happening at the red light, but the person in front of you misses the green arrow completely. It’s so frustrating when these things happen and we can’t possibly understand what could be so distracting that they missed the arrow!
Stress, bills, illness, work, family circumstances or anything of semi-importance can preoccupy our entire existence. We have all gotten lost in our thoughts and or fallen so deep into our own world that we forget that life is still happening until the person behind us, at the light, lays on their horn reminding us that, yes, the world is still spinning on its axis.
While listening to the radio the other day I heard someone describe what it was like learning that his daughter had just been diagnosed with a devastating illness. He explained all of the thoughts that were rushing through his brain as he drove from the hospital. Safe to say he was lost in a world of what-ifs and whys. He found himself traveling down a rabbit hole of possible tests, surgeries and treatments. Then he was abruptly brought back to reality by the sound of horns honking and brakes screeching. To his astonishment, he had just run a red light and didn’t even realize it. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but many people gave him a special finger wave as they drove by.
Perhaps he shouldn’t have been driving, but he had to get home sometime. We have all found ourselves in similar situations where we have barely avoided catastrophe because we were distracted by our own thoughts. So, why do we get so angry when it happens to others? Today, we might assume the person was texting, but what if they are having the worst day of their life? What would it be like to extend someone a little empathy even if we don’t know what is going on? What would it be like to smile, wave and convey that no harm was done?
The man on the radio explained that this experience changed him. He understood that while he was consumed by what was happening in his life he could have killed someone or been killed himself. He vowed in that moment to always try to be empathetic to what others might be going through.
We all know what it feels like to back out of a parking spot only to realize that we almost hit someone. When we do that sheepish wave and mouth an apology it feels so good when in return the person we almost hit accepts our apology with a reciprocated smile and nod.
So, today as you set your feet to the floor take a deep breath, pray for second chances and the ability to be empathetic to everyone around you.
Second chances feel good to all involved.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G