October 23, 2021
i struggle daily with impatience, intolerance and anger.
They are gut reactions.
There is no room in my self image for such emotions, yet there they are.
The antidote for impatience is understanding.
The antithesis of intolerance is appreciation.
The alternative to anger is kindness.
The other day i was walking across a parking lot, head down to avoid the concrete parking stops, deep in thought.
As i approached a fast food restaurant for lunch a man behind me yelled,
“Why the hell did you walk behind my car?”
As i turned toward him he asked,
“Who does that?”
“i’m sorry,” i said. “What is wrong?”
“You walked right behind my car when i was backing into my spot.”
“i’m sorry, but i did not see you.”
“I know,” he yelled. “What kind of person does that?”
For a third time i apologized.
We arrived at the door to the restaurant.
The man pushed ahead of me, opened the door and said over his shoulder,
“Don’t stand behind me in the line.”
As the door closed i decided not to go into the restaurant.
Anger welled inside me.
What had i done to deserve this treatment?
What harm had i done to a man who was briefly inconvenienced by a pedestrian walking across a parking lot?
i took a long deep breath.
i forgave his impatience. He was probably hungry.
i understood his intolerance. i have had to brake for oblivious pedestrians walking behind my backing car.
And even though the kindness of my apologies was not enough to quell the man’s anger,
i took solace in the fact that i was kind.
Kindness comes from respect.
Every human being deserves respect.
No matter how they are behaving a human is behaving human.
i try to see the human in people.
i appreciate that humans are flawed… just like me.
i understand the duel between anger and kindness that every human faces.
But kindness must be delivered in the moment, like a parry to a thrust.
My best foil against anger is kindness.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”
— Matthew 5:38-40
Anger and kindness are diametrically opposed, yet they both take about the same amount of effort.
In my life, i try to replace the gut reaction of anger with kindness.
Kindness alleviates stress. It is good for the body and the soul.
The greatest sacrifice you can make is to assuage anger.
It is also the kindest service you can perform.
I hate to think that you struggle daily with impatience, intolerance and anger, I prefer daily having joy, happiness and contentment.
Indeed… joy, happiness and contentment are the solutions to my struggle.
Absolutely spot on! I will share this with my grandchildren . Too bad the general population will not benefit from your sage words.
Pass along the link to this bLog and more people will benefit.
Thank you for sharing this…
Thanks for sharing. Great food for thought, as we can’t have too much understanding 🙂
This is a very thought provoking blog. It is my favorite issue thus far. I believe most of us encounter both sides almost daily. Thank you!
Reader Trisha says: “I am a follower of you and think you are amazing . KEEP IT UP. We need your smart comments.
Relax and know that you make a difference for so many fans.”
This story reminds me of one of my favorite koans – buddhist teaching stories. It is about the man sitting in a canoe on the river, Along comes a log floating down the river and it bumps into him just a bit. The man thinks nothing of it, and just pushes it off for it to continue down the river.
Later, the same man is sitting in the canoe and another log comes down the river, floating with the current as had the other log. But on this log, a man was sitting. He was not steering the log, he was just sitting on it.
The log he sat bumped up against the other man’s canoe. The canoe man was outraged, and sputtered and cursed the man on the log.
Neither log had done a bit of damage. Yet the canoe man was filled with anger and hatred to a man who had done him no wrong.
We often ascribe agency to other people in situations where there is none. Rick you were minding your own business, you had no ill intentions, and yet the driver interpreted your actions as an insult, an assault, and triggered an unnecessary rage. You were right in calming your own anger, as this would just have transferred his karma onto you. You were wise to break the cycle.
And perhaps even you felt compassion for your partner for having to live a life so easily overwhelmed with a useless, purposeless, consuming anger. That can’t be fun.
We do the best we can. It benefits you, yourself to assume the other is doing that too. Unfortunately the driver has a long road ahead to learn he will benefit more by releasing that mindset. Assume he didn’t ask for that mindset, he learned it. And that can’t have been fun either.
Compassion works for both, for you in the short term, for him, hopefully, in the long term.
It is as if i used this koan as a template (which i did not). Thank you for the spot on example of this message.