I must confess that I get frustrated with folks who seem too self-absorbed, too busy, too distracted to practice the most basic common sense, common decency, or common courtesy. But then, as my mother observed years ago, there is truly little good sense, decency and courtesy at play in the world.
So how can I keep from shaking my fist at the dangerous and discourteous drivers, the thoughtless and irksome co-worker, the distractingly unprofessional business people, the frustrating and just plain maddening family member, friend, neighbor?
For me it starts with remembering what it was like in the early days of my young widowhood. (I was 45 when my husband died of sudden cardiac arrest.) I lost all my keys three times and, I fear, left the key guy thinking I was interested in him. I rarely could remember which of the half dozens alternative ways to work that I had driven as I pulled into the parking lot. I burst into tears at the mall, trying to finish Christmas shopping, much to the discomfort of the check-out clerk! I replaced my 12-year-old's pager six times. I forgot birthdays of family and friends and got through most days by putting one foot in front of the other until I could escape to a night of little sleep. I'm betting I was not the most courteous of drivers or the most efficient of co-workers or the most patient with professionals and customer service folks and I know I was too tender to have much left to give my nearest and dearest.
So, since I am not certain about who just left their child at the hospital or their mother at the nursing home or lost their job or got a diagnosis of a potentially life-changing illness, then I'll just have to show them a little mercy. If they are just being a pill, then I have lost nothing. But if they are struggling, maybe my kindness will ease their burden a bit today.
So for today, I'll just assume the other guy or gal is a lot like me: doing the best they can in a frightful and dizzyingly busy world with a limited human body and a fragile human heart. I'll offer the kindness and tolerance that has blessed me on my darkest days just in case they need a little of my light today.