On the way to school, music was filtering throughout the car, and the sun was shining on beautifully fresh blue skies. The drive is always short and sweet, but today's was really working hard to charm. I approached an intersection, one of many on the route, one I have entered many times. Just part of a regular routine. The light was green, so driving smoothly through was a safe expectation. All was well and fine.
Then, a driver coming from the opposite direction chose to make a left turn in front of me in the middle of the intersection. And not only did they turn in front of me but also the driver in the lane to me.
What do we do when someone chooses to drive through our safe path, thus making it unsafe? We honk the horn, yell, slam our brakes avoiding collision, push on the gas pedal praying for more power, sometimes cry once all is done. Sometimes, there are minor injuries and damages to vehicles; while at other times, there can be major injuries that affect the rest of your life or even worse. Although most of the time when things like this happen, we don't get injured or hurt, but we can learn what to do better or to appreciate smooth sailing a little more.
We have all encountered one of these drivers at some point in our lives, people who cut in front of our positive attitude and outlook, people who choose without thought of how they affect others. At times, we are the poor driver. In any case, we have also reacted in various ways. The gamut of responses to such offenses can be complicated—or is it?
I learned a quick yet poignant lesson about how simple our response can be from my youngest who was in the car with me.
That car was directly in front of me. With only a split second to check right, I could see the driver in that lane was farther into the intersection than me, causing the car turning in front of us to begin stopping to avoid collision, which gave me even less time to react well. So within that split second cut in half, I then looked ahead to see other options: I could hit the brakes as hard as possible and hope we didn't hit too hard and not get hit from behind or drive into the opposing traffic's left turn lane to get around the vehicle. In that split split second, I was also able to see far enough ahead that I could swerve around into the opposing traffic lane. And we made it through without causing a different major problem.
Once the danger was past, I was freaking out about how that person made it so I almost had to hit their car or hit cars in opposing traffic. I was seriously upset. And it had been literally two minutes or less when my son tells me, "Why are you dwelling on it? It already happened." I was in freak out mode, so I freaked out on him asking, "How is it dwelling on it when it hasn't even been five minutes since it happened?!" But he persisted and repeated what he had said simply and matter-of-factly.
I don't know about you, but my definition of dwelling on something is when the issue ruins my whole day or days or even longer. Not under any circumstance would I have thought that tripping on how terrifying the situation was for a minute afterward could qualify as dwelling on it. Alas, I stand corrected. That prompt to let it go without furthering the stress by pulling it apart and analyzing the inexcusable put it all in perspective within seconds. It was like a light switch was turned on, and I could see how blessed we were that I had enough time somehow to evaluate my obstacles when there was no time and swerve to safety. I was then immediately able to feel gratitude for the open lane on the opposite way, which is usually packed with a long line of cars wanting to turn left. Peace came quickly all because I didn't dwell on it for even one more second (once I listened to his advice).
Another side of this is the idea that our circumstances are of our own making. That notion only goes so far with me. I've lived for too long with being acted upon despite my best efforts to buy into that idea. However, within our choice set that is ours and from time to time pinched and even thwarted by others, we always have the choice to swerve out of the way of negative thoughts. We can choose to not dwell on things that have no worth in helping us learn or progress.
We never have to give more time to things that steal our peace. We can learn and cultivate the art of swerving.