It is a beautiful sunny evening. I am driving along a busy freeway, cars to my right, guardrail on the left. I am keeping pace with the white car about 3 to 4 car-lengths ahead of me when I notice he seems to be slowing down. I ease up on the gas. Suddenly, their brakelights flare and he stops, dead, in the lane. I pump my brakes praying the driver in the pickup truck behind me is paying attention. The car that has stopped slowly begins to ease into the emergency vehicle turnoff to pull a U-turn. I have slowed down enough to be able to squeeze around his read-end and keep moving along without rear-ending him.
Accident averted. Traffic keeps flowing.
I breathe. Think not so nice thoughts about the driver who decided to pull a U-turn on a freeway and remember to breathe again. Can’t change what he did. I can change the not nice thoughts I’m having about him. Bless him. Forgive me.
I am alive. No accident. All is good.
But the incident sticks with me.
How did I know he was slowing down even before his brakelights appeared? How is it I was able to anticipate his next move?
And I remember back to the weekend. As I drove home from a romp at the park with Beaumont, the car in front of me stopped in the middle of the road for seemingly no reason. I stopped. Waited.
I wonder why we are stopped in the middle of the road. There must be a reason I tell myself.
And then the reason appeared.
A mother duck and her five tiny ducklings waddled out from in front of the car in front of me making their way to the other side of the road. They were so cute! So adorable. Pushing and shoving and leap-frogging over each other. I laughed and smiled and silently thanked the driver in front of me for the opportunity to experience such a delightful scene.
It was only a few days later the driver pulled the U-turn on Glenmore Trail. My mind still held the imprint of the ducklings waddling across the road. Curiosity was still awakened when the driver began to slow down. Intuitively, I noticed the emergency vehicle turn-off to the driver’s left. Intuitively, I was prepared for the driver to do something that from my position in my car, did not make sense, but to him, lost, listening to Siri give him directions, going the wrong way on a freeway (or whatever was going on), it made perfect sense. Life and death consequences were far from his thinking. Getting to where he wanted to go was the focus of his attention.
So often, we encounter someone so fixed on what they are doing, where they are going and their need to get there that they are unconscious of the impact of their actions.
So often, we do not have time, nor the power, to awaken another to the potential impact of their actions. All we can do is respond. How we respond is our choice.
I cannot see and often do not know what motivates others to do the things they do. All I can do is be aware, prepared, conscious. All I can do is respond in ways that do not conflict with my desire to live my life with peace of mind and a loving heart.
Had I not been paying attention, had I stayed in disbelief that he was pulling a U-turn on a busy freeway, the outcome would have been much different.
Believing he was doing what he was doing, gave me the space to respond in a way that created value in my life, their life and the lives of the drivers behind me.
I am grateful to that mother duck and her ducklings and the driver who stopped. They reminded me to pay attention. To be conscious of the world around me, and to trust my intuition.
And they reminded me of the miracles all around.
It was a miracle I did not hit that car. I am grateful.