Not too long ago I was running on a sparsely traveled country road in the early morning hours. The sun had just popped over the horizon and was coloring the morning with bright rays that warmed my back. It was a quiet morning and the birds provided music that accompained the sounds that were playing through my Ipod.
It was a perfect morning.
I do my best to be safe when running on the roads. I keep my Ipod low and my body as far to the left as I can. When a car approaches I shift my position into the berm or further, if possible. On this particular morning, I noticed a car approaching and I quickly eased into the berm. I felt safe because it was only myself and this car on the open road and he had plenty of room to adjust his position to the middle of the road, giving us both plenty of room. I watched as he came closer, closer, and closer without making any attempt to make room for me. I was stuck between a ditch and a vehicle that was moving quickly toward me and had to make a quick decision. Possible broken ankle vs. possible death. I jumped toward the ditch just in time to escape being hit and luckily broke no bones in the process.
As the car whizzed by me, my adrenaline pumped like I was in the final leg of an important race and my anger rose so quickly it nearly took my breath away. The words that went through my mind toward this gentleman shall remain out of this blog and for the next mile or two I berated, cursed, and ruminated on this crazy driver who seemed to think that the road was only for him. As the miles ticked by I looped back around to take the same road of this incident, but in the opposite direction. This time, the sun cast its rays on my face and I soon got lost in the beauty of the morning. I was lost, that is, until a car surprised me by appearing out of nowhere, giving me little time to make sure I was securely on the side of the road.
I didn’t see the car approaching me. . . the sun glare was too bright.
That’s when it hit me. . . the car that nearly ran me down just a little bit ago didn’t even see me. Just like I had experienced, the gentleman driving that car was blinded by the sunlight and he probably never knew what had almost happened. While I made assumptions about his character, driving ability, and haughtiness, he was going about his morning possibly relishing the beautiful morning or anticipating a days work.
It seems that these lessons on perspective come at me from every direction. Perhaps, I need them. Maybe I’m making something out of nothing, but this little incident reminded me that if I haven’t walked a mile in your shoes–I should keep my mouth shut. The view from your world likely looks very different the view from my world. And that, I believe, is what makes all of life so incredible.
There are so many things I hope to teach my kids in the years that I have with them. . . but this thing about perspective, it’s at the top of my list.
This is not to say that I am really good at this. There are times when I am confused by people who are different than me. Or I make snap judgements on little or no information. Little by little, though, I am learning that everyone has a story and our stories matter. Our stories play a role in the way we see the world. Some of our stories are good, some of them bad and most of us have a mixture of good and bad. Our stories shape us and, in a way, make us who we are.
I can admit that I get nervous when I think about how I am playing a role in shaping the stories of my little ones. There are days when I royally mess up. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m a terrible Mom, but there are days when I say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, ignore what I should pay attention to and pay attention to what I should ignore. I have no doubt that we will contribute to some of their good stories. . . and some of their bad.
. . . and that is just part of life. If I can model for them, though, a desire to understand others, an urgency to see the view from the other direction, or to feel the tread in another person’s shoes. . . I will breathe a huge sigh of relief.
In teaching this (not preaching), by example, I believe I will give them one of the most important tools they can have. And along with an understanding on perspective comes a side of empathy, grace, and compassion. That is good stuff.
I was humbled by my little brush with death that morning as I realized how wrong I was to react and assume the way that I did. Once again I was reminded that taking a moment to consider the other side is worth the pause and goes far to create bridges and open the mind to an entirely new, and beautiful perspective.