I spend a lot of time driving. Commuting back and forth to work five days a week racks up a lot of miles and translates into a lot of hours spent behind the wheel.
I consider myself, for the most part, to be a friendly, courteous driver. I slow down to let people merge onto the highway or into my lane. I try to get out of the way of someone who wants to drive faster than I am. I use my turn signals and maintain a safe distance from the car in front of me.
I also consider myself, for the most part, to be a fairly kind and understanding driver. I try to remind myself that there are blind spots and other factors that cause some drivers to attempt to share my lane. There are medical and other emergencies that cause some people to drive at dangerous speeds. I remind myself that we are all human and we all make mistakes.
I try to remember all these things, but I have to admit that sometimes it is still difficult. Sometimes, when other drivers tailgate or come close to running me off the road, I get irritated and feel anything but kind and understanding.
One morning this week, while I was driving to work, a car began to pull into my lane. As the car got dangerously close, I noticed that it was a car very much like the one my daughter drives. I wondered how differently my feelings toward this driver would be if she were my daughter. Would I, instead of anger, feel concern? Would I worry about the cause of her actions instead of attributing blame? As I pondered these questions, the irritation that I had begun to feel for this driver instantly vanished.
For the remainder of my drive to work, I tried to remind myself that the other drivers were all someone’s daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. When they did something that would normally cause me to be angry or frustrated, I tried instead to be patient and considerate. I tried my best to give them and their actions the benefit of the doubt. As I did, I found myself becoming more courteous and friendly and less stressed and irritated.
Later that day as I reflected on the experience, I wondered how different my daily commute might be if everyone treated the other drivers as if they were someone they loved and cared for.
How different might the world be if we extended this to include not only those we share our drive with but also those we share our walk through life with each day?