Driving this morning - just now, in fact - I pulled up to a roundabout and paused to check out the traffic. I chose not to sneak in front of the car on my left, though if I had wanted to I probably had time. I was promptly beeped at by the driver behind me. Startled, and throwing an obvious glance through the rear vision mirror at him, I was taken aback by this man's impatience. At the next opportunity, I sped off, angry, and wanting to demonstrate my unhappiness.
As I calmed down, I wondered, Did he realise the negative impact his actions had on me? And then I wondered, How often have I behaved with impatience towards fellow drivers? There has been an impatience, an urgency, to my driving - to my living - of late, rushing from one thing to the next and to the next. And I dislike living like that.
I prefer for my being to have a spaciousness to it, contemplation and reflection cultivating attentiveness. Cultivating space for stories, for others, for God. What impact is the impatience, urgency, over-fullness having on those for whom I am called to be present and available?
I recalled an unexpected stranger arriving on my doorstep yesterday, and the ungracious brush off they received. I came home early from my office, tired, not able to concentrate on the tasks at hand, seeking sustenance and rest. As I got out of my car, a gorgeous husky clambered out of the garden (read 'weeds', I don't have time for that, either), and came to say hello. She or he was calm and gentle, but clearly out and about without his or her human. I brushed her (or him) off, sent her home. Then wished later that I had been kinder, looked for a name, a number to call her human, an address to accompany her to ...
Later yesterday I spent time with a younger adult who I mentor, as she prepared her contribution for a youth camp. My time with her this weekend has dwindled from all afternoon and part of a day to all afternoon and a quick visit day two, and by yesterday it was a couple of hours and maybe I'll pop in tomorrow. I did pop in this morning, to drop something off I forgot to leave yesterday (yet another thing dropping out of my crowded mind and memory), and as she led me to see her artistic creations. my words were, 'I've only got a minute, I haven't had breakfast, I'm tired, I'm very busy ...' I would very much like to have been able to respond - 'yes, I would be delighted to see what you have done.'
This season of high demand, high pressure, busyness has certainly been taking its toll on me. But now it is affecting others - oh, I know that husky is probably fine, and I also know my mentee is understanding and sure enough of herself that she won't be damaged by my limited availability. Still. I am disappointed. I still cannot implement the spacious, contemplative way of being in the world that will offer the best of me to the world. I do not have space for others, and I would like to.
This morning I did take time with my sister's cats, for whom I am caring for a few days. Yesterday they received little time from me, like the dog, as I rushed in, made sure they had food and water, and rushed out again. Confused at the prolonged absence of their humans, Cisco and Dax clearly appreciated my sitting down for half an hour with them as they ate, played, and sought assurance from a human friend.
And as I drive, for the next week or two or longer let's hope, I will keep Mr Impatient from this morning in mind, and remember that my fellow road users are humans inside their vehicles, on their bikes, on the footpaths: not obstacles between me and my next destination.