This morning started off like pretty much every other. Waking before 6:30am, throwing on some clothes, grabbing the lead and heading out the door with a waiting and willing dog. Tai chi practice under the oak trees in the park, some stretching then a vigorous walk.
But today was different. It had an air of newness about it. As I paced around amongst the spectacular greenery and traced the bushed ridges of the nearby hills with my eyes, my thoughts were elsewhere. They were tending the future ground of discovery. Since having our two girls, I’ve learned that thought is never just that. More and more, I have learned to train my thoughts so they don’t jump to conclusions so much, don’t get me into states where I fret the small things so much, are useful, are laying the unconscious groundwork for my as yet unlived future life.
Yesterday, I wrote that letting go of outmoded relationships was similar to tending a garden where plants have died.
Today, I was preparing the soil for new life to enter. And to start with, that new life will be introduced via foster care training. Steve and I are about to embark on something huge. For us, for our girl(s), and although I am in no way permitted to own or assume it, I gather it will also be quite big for those children who come in and out of our family for however long we are called on to be in service for them.
I looked at my feet beating the track I was so used to. This track is about to change, even if on the surface it appears to be the same old worn path. Because the family dynamics are set to evolve. I naturally fear change. I also love my solitude. It’s about to get shaken up and challenged. On the one hand, why would I do this to myself, I ask? But on the other…
I must. And that is all there is to it.
As I brushed the LGBB’s hair into a ponytail, I mused that someday soon it won’t just be us two getting out the door in the morning. I won’t be returning home to a house that is mine alone for the day while I work, interrupted only by my own procrastinations (hey… that kettle doesn’t boil itself, you know).
I wondered how I could possibly imagine myself making a difference. But that’s just the thing: it’s none of my business to ever know if I have. Simply being not just in the world but of it. That’s my job.
On our way up to school, we got stuck behind a bus. Then a huge slow truck. On a winding, steep road, there is nothing for it but to sit there and let all your frustrations drop away. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop the angry gentleman in the car behind from not only tailgating me but sitting on his car horn for most of the way up. Something that both alarmed and amused the LGBB. I’m still not sure exactly what he expected to achieve, or what he wanted me to do. But something was certainly motivating him to make his point loud and clear.
Coming back down the (steep, sizeable, brakepad-chewing) hill after the school drop-off, despite doing 20km/h over the speed limit because I like to save my brakes and touch them only sporadically, I was almost rear-ended by the haste of youth. A youth in a car that can only be described as a rollerskate, such was its size. And boy, did he also have a point to prove. I’m not sure if he had been attempting to actually lift off the road and fly and I’d spoiled his run-up, but there he was. Next to me at the lights at the bottom, jaw squared as he glared at me out of his rollerskate. I put on my best blank-Mum-face and giggled internally as he set off with a screech of tyres when the lights turned green. He veered in front of me without indicating in that jerky movement of the deeply aggravated. Only to be stopped again at the next set of lights just metres away.
Then I looked around at everyone jostling for the front position. Two lanes of peak hour traffic, cars setting off at a good pace but apparently not good enough for some. As if his rage was spreading to the cars around him, because of his overt actions as he drove, I watched as other angry hands went flying up and heads were shaking as rage-filled glances were exchanged in rear view mirrors up ahead of me. That boy in the traffic really had something to prove today, obviously. So did the old guy with his hand on the car horn. And they both inflicted their energy on those around them. Something that happens a lot. To all of us, if you stop and think about it.
Perhaps they were late. Perhaps they weren’t taking responsibility for not getting up earlier so they were going to take it out on all the other drivers at fault for going slower than I need them to, damnit! Perhaps they had no idea why they were so pushy, maybe they had also never tried to remain consciously aware of what they were actually inflicting on others… I’ll never know.
But it affected me. And for a split second, I felt indignant about it. The fact that a stranger can come barging in to my otherwise peaceful morning and energetically offload. I’m pretty good at protecting myself by now because I know it does affect me. And because of that, I’m more aware of how what I inadvertently give off will be affecting others. So it makes me live more consciously.
But every now and then, I wonder just how aware people are of their insensitivity towards others with their spitfire energy. How willing they’d be to concede that they are, by their demeanour, affecting others and apparently thinking nothing of it. Imagine how different we could make the world around us in our daily lives if only we stopped blaming anything else and began taking responsibility for how we are towards others. Even – and perhaps especially – strangers we’ll never come across again.
Do you ever spare a thought for how you might be affecting others? Do you think it only matters if you know the person? Are you rude to strangers, like other drivers in traffic, and think that doesn’t “count”? Do you think how you are with other beings – strangers or not – affects you in any way?