Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Unexpected Lessons

I pull into a parking lot, cut through a spot to get to the next lane.  Yes, I am one of those who use the parking spot short cut.  Rather than go straight across I turn right.  I realize there is a pick up truck facing me with anger and disgust, with a few choice thoughts and words expressed toward me.  Needless to say I was uncertain what the problem was as there was plenty of space for both of us to get through the lane (my vehicle is quite small and economical).  She made her gestures.  And I, in Puerto Rican Ghetto fashion, provide a few gestures and slurs (and I was having such a good day).  Regardless of the incident I did park my car with a deep breath and moved on, not allowing the incident to have anymore power over me.

Upon entering the store I picked up a basket for groceries and begun to walk away.  Suddenly I notice the basket only has one handle.  So I return to the baskets for a new one and notice the ‘other’ road rage driver.  Worry not, for I had nothing to say and did not want to ruin my day or be 86’ed out of El Paso's Albertsons.  I proceeded to leave the area when this woman of average height, older than myself (possibly 40’ish), slender red head begins to say: “Excuse me miss.  Ma’am, excuse me”.  I turn and reply, “I have nothing to say”; and I begin to leave when she invades my very guarded (yet suddenly very vulnerable) personal space.  Sweat begun to creep over my brow and my space unexpectedly overrun by this stranger, who seconds earlier was on top of my hit list (coal in her stocking for sure).

She put her hand ever so gently upon my left shoulder and asked me to forgive her as it was just nasty and unnecessary to act like that.  Incapable of thought but swirling with emotion I looked around, everywhere but in her eyes (although covered by sunglasses, I looked away as I could not handle the reflection).  A lifetime seemed to pass as I stumbled for articulation – sound, something.  Again she asks me to please forgive her, making certain to inform me that she felt sorry and horrible.  For the first time in my life I did not know what to say or how to respond.  A stranger was touching me without malice!  Eventually I managed to muster a few sentences, none of which consisted of ‘stop touching me’.

I put my left hand on her shoulder and told her not to worry as I was certain my behavior was equally bad, if not worse, and that it really was unnecessary.  Sad that my brain and language skills failed me at that moment; I was taken back by her serious sincerity (unless of course she was an employee – ha lol).  I was lost in the moment of human dignity.  My story seems short and simple but it is the farthest thing from simple or short.  This woman impacted me in a very profound way.  She and the situation are an example of how we run through our days ignorant and closed off to the world and those around us - yet how quick we can ignite.  We allow a moment to consume us, change our demeanor, and allow our dignity to fall away.
There are many lessons to learn from this experience.  One of which is we share space and time with strangers more often than not and should be aware/conscious of ourselves and our emotions.  We forget the world does not revolve around us.  Second, a single moment does not have to rule us or our day.  We control the destiny of our day(s).  Third, it is never too late or impossible to make amends.  To make amends is to take a step forward to living a happy and well rounded life.  Finally, we are all trying to coexist in the midst of personal drama and chaos, whether in public or private, we are all working to live our lives as best we can.  If we could all take the time to admit our wrongs with true sincerity, this planet would be a much better and happier place for each of us; our personal drama and/or chaos does not have to be unleashed upon innocent bystanders, nor does it have to be carried with us everywhere we go (leave it at home).  Some may read this and think I have put too much thought into one situation but I feel and believe it to be thought provoking and inspiring.  This very beautiful stranger provided me with hope; hope that society has and is not as corrupt as we often believe, which means my children have a chance to experience the beauty we provide as humans: compassion, forgiveness, understanding, dignity and love.  There just maybe hope for the races. 

I could tear apart this paper with psychological terminology and meaning, but I won’t.  As it stands I am well aware of why I in turn was so ignited and shamefully admit that.  However I realize that I too am not beyond forgiveness, understanding, or progression – I was humbled and plan to work on not allowing such inconsequential events break apart my own sense of self worth and dignity, nor allow myself to devalue any moment of experience.  Ma’am, if you happen upon this paper please know and understand that you impacted me in the most profound ways.  I am indebted to you and thank you for kindness – your message did not go unheard or unfelt.  At the very least, whoever shall stumble upon this paper, remember that our actions impact others most!

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