What I have learned about kindness over the past 20 days is that the common element across all aspects of kindness includes patience - patience to be with a friend, to give someone your time, to hold a door open for a stranger, to check on someone, to share what you have with others, to stop and smile. All of it reflect a sense of patience. I think this also comes from a sense of abundance. When we feel complete, when we are confident, when we believe in ourselves, when we are enough, we have space to give more to others.
An area of my life where I see and experience a lack of kindness too often is on the road. I am not always patient after sitting in two hours of rush hour traffic. I am not always patient when I am in the car and feeling hungry, late, or need to use the restroom.
Just a few days ago I was driving somewhere and there was tons of traffic. It didn’t need to be that way but some people were driving slow across all lanes and blocking the flow of traffic. I changed lanes several times trying to move past the traffic. After about 25 minutes when it seemed like I had made a bit of progress I found myself right behind a trailer that was pulling a car and had stayed in the right lane the entire time. In that moment I laughed and thought to myself, “Okay, Monica. Chill out.” I wasn’t even in a hurry. I had plenty of time. I just don’t like traffic. I was thinking about all of the other things I could be doing rather than sitting in my car. I took a few deep breaths and got present and found something to enjoy about being in my car in that moment. Everything was okay. About 10 minutes later someone aggressively trying to pass others swerved around me, honked, and waved his arms. I thought how glad I was to not be feeling that way.
I see so many accidents every day and I know how stressful it can be driving on the road. Let’s remember that we are not alone or invisible. Others see us. Others suffer the consequences of our actions. We share the road with other people driving cars and motorcycles. They could be our friends and neighbors. We also share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists. Hurting someone else in the name of impatience is never okay. That is someone’s mother, father, child, partner, friend, etc.
I have a great philosophy for driving that I would like to share. When you are in a hurry and you need to pass, do it. When you are not, let others pass you. Be aware of others. You are not alone on the road. Stay alert. Be thankful for what you have. Be patient. What can you find in this moment that will bring you joy?
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals includes Target 3.6 which ”aims by 2020, to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.”
Patience on the road is not only kindness to others but it is also kindness to yourself. When I share my gratitude for the present moment, when I am grateful that I am driving and not in a car accident, when I relax and appreciate a podcast or a favorite song, I arrive at my destination in a great mood and then am able to share that mood with others around me.
In service to yourself and others, let’s share kindness on the road. Be understanding that not everyone knows where they are going. Be courteous to allow others to merge. Pull over to let others pass you when you can. Be mindful of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, and others. Be loving and kind to yourself. It’s alright. You’ll get there.