Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Counting to Ten

"Men are disturbed not by events which happen, but rather by the opinion they have of these events."

I admire this quotation enormously. All we need to know is right there before us: places, people and events are what you make of them.
I try to be more patient these days; stress leads to defective health. It is easier said than done, however. An instant of panic or annoyance, and all our good intentions go flying out the window.
When we lived in our small town in California, I could walk everywhere. Our house was a couple of streets from the supermarket, and just a few miles from my college. Everything was nearby: library, thrift stores and cafes. It was marvellous and we loved every moment of it.
One day I traipsed to the supermarket. I was, I recall, highly stressed at the time. It was coming to end-of-semester time and I had exams to study for, essays to begin. I was not particularly pleased to be doing the grocery during such precious, much-needed study time but normal life had to continue.
I loved living in that town but from time to time when I crossed the street at a green light, drivers would continue to roll toward me, urging me to walk a little faster. It vexed me greatly, especially as a green light gave me permission to take my slow time if I desired. Not that I dawdled; people were simply impatient to be moving and I was but an obstacle in their path. I never indicated to any of them that I was angry; rather I pretended not to notice.
As I was walking across the supermarket parking lot I felt the faint breath of a car creeping up behind me. I dared not look behind; the best way to annoy such drivers is, as I said, to pretend they are not bothering you in the least.
I kept walking and the car grew closer.
My blood began to boil. I slowed down to a crawl. The car was very close, too close now.
And then the driver blew the horn. A gentle tap, it was, but gently or furiously, I did not care by then. I was indignant. I spun around on my heel, ready to take on the demon who had been so pushy and rude.
It was not an impatient, lunatic driver- merely my friend from college, who was delighted not only to meet me, but to see by my face that she had inspired ferociousness in a person. I do believe it made her day.
Not everything is as we think it might be: sometimes a few moments of calm are required. Perhaps we might count to ten, or one hundred if we really feel the need. I try now more than ever.
It will not always be a friend having a laugh; it will not always be a good person. But a few moments of reflective thought can make a world of difference.

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