It certainly is difficult to stay positive in a world that’s determined to destroy itself. I’m not even going to touch the political realm; I’m talking about the world as a whole. We’re on this earth for what is such a short period of time; why waste it with hate?
I’m in a self-reflective mood again. Uh-oh.
One of the things that I’ve learned about myself in the five years or so that I’ve had this blog, is that I am very good at hanging on to negativity. I have storehouses filled with bad memories and vengeful thoughts. I don’t know why I’ve done it, but I have – and I can’t imagine how that’s shaped my world. How many friendships did I lose because I couldn’t get over something? How many people did I hurt because I felt the need to avenge a perceived wrong? How many days would have been better had I not wanted to relive or maintain the past? Better yet, what did hanging on to that nonsense profit me?
As Edwin Starr once said, “Absolutely nothing.”
Aristotle noted in his discussion on ethics that a person needed to be a positive force to affect change in his world. If one was positive, he or she would inspire others in their circle to be positive. They, in turn, would have the same influence on their circle, and in time . . . Well, you get the picture.
I’ve been thinking about this because of some stranger who nearly ran me off of the road – the Interstate, no less – this afternoon. “Mister Ford F-150” apparently decided that the rest of us were moving too slowly in driving the posted 70 MPH, and by golly, he had places to be. My brother once noted that he always suspected that people who drove fast were doing so because they had to pee; as a result, I often dismiss such shenanigans by declaring that the offending driver “must really have to go.”
Stupid humor, I know, but it keeps me from getting hyper-annoyed at someone’s bad driving.
Not this time, though. Mister Ford F-150 was dangerous – racing in-between vehicles and tailgating others (including me), all at the worst possible time to pull a stunt like that – the afternoon rush hour. And for what? The lanes were packed and people were driving as fast as the guy in front of them would allow. It was bad enough that Mister Ford F-150 decided that the restrictions on the shoulder lanes – clearly marked as off-limits – did not apply to himself. And when he nearly ran me out of my lane into someone else in the next lane (again, we’re driving at 70 MPH), well, that was it.
Old Me (a good many years ago) would have raced up along side Mister Ford F150, passed him, and then cut in front of him – all for the “pleasure” of slowing down and pissing him off. I know that I would have done it because years ago, I did such things. I was offended, and now, I would be avenged! In those days, I didn’t even care if a stunt like that might have killed me; I’d have gotten my revenge, and that’s what was important, right? And if I couldn’t get back at him, well, I’d have let that anger marinate in my mind until who-knows-when, watching each and every truck I encountered on the roads as if I were Ahab seeking Moby Dick.
Prideful. Vengeful. Self-centered. Pointless. Worse, I actually had the hubris to believe that I was justified to think and act that way.
New Me simply let Mister Ford F-150 drive off. Yeah, I had a few choice words in my head, but I didn’t interfere with his path, nor did I chase him down. I didn’t give him any angry gestures, nor did I toss curses his way. Nope, not me. Nowadays, I say a prayer for people like that. Maybe they’re racing to the hospital to see a loved one. Maybe they’re trying to save a life. Maybe they’re trying to get away from something bad. I don’t know and I can’t say. What I can say is that I’ve no business hanging on to the negativity that accompanied the episode. Nothing good will come from that, so . . . move on, my man.
Today’s incident caused me to reflect on how much I’ve changed – and how much further I have yet to go. Like in not personalizing offenses – sometimes bad things happen. Like not seeing those who’ve caused me offence in some way as enemies – it’s usually an accident. Like emptying the storehouse full of ancient anger I have to make room for newer, better memories.
I realize that I’m a work-in-progress. But with God’s help, I’m going to be a positive person in this world.
Hopefully, ole Aristotle was on to something.