Just before 3:16 today, I narrowly missed being in an accident with a car that ran a red light. A difference of one second would have made this a drastically different story – assuming I survived it to tell it.
It took me a moment to realize what had just happened. When the shock wore off, I saw the car ahead of me. I hit the gas and went after it, and when I caught up to it at the next light, I made a hard stop right next to it. I had words for this driver.
It was a middle aged woman. Short hair. Glasses. The kind who probably lives for her grandkids and secretly loves reality TV. I beeped. Rolled down my window. She rolled down hers.
“Did you just run that red light?” I asked with an equanimity uncharacteristic of any redhead in history. Karen Kaye must have stepped out of my body because I was clearly channeling some higher being at this particular moment.
The woman looked shocked. I said, “You nearly hit me.” She begins apologizing… confessing she heard screeching… she doesn’t know what happened…
I could have launched a tirade of anger and self-righteous pontification (drawing from my newfound wisdom from recently completing traffic school after tailgating a police officer).
What I said next actually took me aback.
I asked her, “Are you okay?”.
And I realized that I was asking her that out of sincere concern. Was she safe to be driving? Was she simply distracted by troubled thoughts? Was she deeply shaken from realizing her distraction could have been fatal for an innocent soul? Did she need a hug?
The last thing I remember is the woman desperately reaching her hand toward me – perhaps in an odd attempt to connect with me… And I realized then that in a way, we HAD connected. We connected because for some insane reason, I responded with concern, compassion and forgiveness – instead of anger.
Why did I respond with kindness? Perhaps it’s a side effect of gratitude. I was reminded of the Lady Gaga interview where she talks about how hatred and evil divides. How we are unified in our humanity. In that moment, I was able to see her as another human being, understandably imperfect. Just like me.
Three minutes later, I arrived at my destination. Just as I am about to exit my car, my phone begins playing a beautiful violin song. It was my 3:16 alarm reminding me to take a moment of gratitude.
I brought my hands to my heart and said, “thank you, thank you, thank you”… and today, I took longer than usual to express my gratitudes for all the blessings before me.
This morning I posted an article titled, “Every Day at 3:16“. I didn’t mention this next part in the article because I didn’t think it mattered. But it needs to be shared now.
Every day I passionately thank my angels, guides and the universe for keeping me divinely protected.
Missing a horrible car accident by one second IS being divinely protected.
I know gratitude protects, directs and rewards me in many ways. But today I realized that it also softens my heart, allowing me to be the kindness our world needs most right now.
Set your alarm. And take a moment each day to say thank you.
Yesterday Michael and I picked up six bags of trash around the neighborhood. As Michael climbed into a ravine to grab yet another discarded beer bottle, I heard him mutter, “Who would do this? Who would just toss this here?”. You could hear the disgust and dismay beneath his bafflement.
I used to ask myself that when I took my walks to pick up trash. Instead of feeling joy from cleaning up my neighborhood, I felt dismay and defeat when I saw more trash along the street the very next day. It made my efforts seem pointless.
But I would grab my pick-up stick and stomp out there to clean up the same areas I cleaned up the day before. I remember struggling to extract a sea of mustard packets out of a thicket of bushes and asking myself the very same question. What is wrong with the person who thought discarding mustard packets in a bush was a good idea? WHO WOULD DO THIS?
The answer instantly popped into my mind. Someone who is very broken inside. That made me pause. How we treat the external world says a lot about our internal world. Someone who is trashing the world is probably doing the same with their body, mind and spirit. We’re usually picking up liquor bottles, candy wrappers, fast food bags, cups of soda and cigarette butts. These aren’t signs of someone who is taking precious care of their body. When you respect (and love something), you treat it well. We have a tendency to trash or destroy things we hate or think very little of. The Outside reflects the Inside.
When I realized that the person who is recklessly discarding trash in this manner is simply someone who is broken inside, it drew compassion from my heart. Instead of being judgmental towards them, I began sending a loving and compassion thought their way as I picked up their trash. Sometimes I’d ask the energies of the universe to help guide that person to heal whatever led them to discard trash this way. This is my form of compassionate action. Send a loving thought, prayer or dedication and let physics do it’s magic.
For me, picking up trash isn’t just about cleaning up the neighborhood and taking ownership for the world I live in. It’s a way for me to infuse some positive impact on my neighborhood and people who travel through it. The problem isn’t that people are reckless with their trash. The problem is that we have people who are living out their internal pain in destructive ways and they aren’t getting the help and healing they need.
I don’t know who those people are, but I know some of them pass by when I am picking up trash; they see what I am doing and they avert their eyes. So I handle this “under the radar”. The best thing I can do is grant them compassion and positive thoughts and move about my day. Nothing good comes from infusing the situation with my frustration or anger.
My next challenge is to apply this concept when I encounter other kinds of “trash” – rudeness, anger, dishonesty, manipulation. Those things are just another form of people’s trash. Rudeness is purely a reflection of their internal world (it doesn’t have to do with you, so don’t take it personally); remembering this actually makes this a little easier to deal with. You can then observe it with curious eyes and not get emotionally roped in to their drama.
We are all broken in some way inside. Perhaps if we choose compassionate action over judgement, we will begin healing our way toward wholeness a little bit faster.