Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.
Last week, I had what Daniel Powter would call: a terrible, no-good, very bad day.
I’d slept poorly the night before—possibly because I had a bit too much tea, somewhat late in the day, and possibly because I have a mung bean-sized bladder that doesn’t seem to understand or even care about REM cycles.
In addition to being physically exhausted, I was feeling emotionally consumed. I’d been dealing with a myriad of feelings thanks to PMS, as I prepare to train for my first ever marathon, and as I try my best to manage my time wisely dealing with a number of commitments.
Also, I was feeling a little disappointed with myself. I’d recently slowed my work down a bit, both to allow myself space to process my feelings related to the recent major life decisions I have made and to work on some new creative projects.
Turns out, there’s no logic in expecting that I can simultaneously entertain a tidal wave of emotions to wash over me and bring about something completely unrelated to those feelings.
So on top of anxiety and panic about the ~future~, I was feeling guilty about “wasting time.”
In an attempt to improve my mood, I asked my partner if he wanted to get lunch, but first I needed to stop at the clinic for my medical examination.
I started looking for a GrabCar taxi at around 8 in the morning. Finally found one after 30 minutes. The cab driver took a different route to “avoid the traffic” and also as per his Waze recommendations, we threaded the always flooded area around Mandaluyong City Hall, passed by that always “under-construction” site and then through to Makati Avenue. I was just headed to Buendia cor Paseo. We could have just took EDSA and turned right to Gil Puyat but my gosh. To sum it up, the trip from Shaw Boulevard to Medicard took two and a half grueling hours.
The traffic looks like something you’d see at Enchanted Kingdom, except without the enthusiastic banter you usually hear when people are drawing closer to Space Shuttle.
My patience was right there with my bladder—the size of a mung bean’s—and I really wanted to just go back home instead; but the sooner I finish that medical exam, the sooner I could stop telling myself, “Why are you doing nothing? You have to get that medical exam done!”
I thought, “This will pass quickly,” without any better reason to believe this was true other than wishful thinking. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After arguing with the driver for a bit, while shifting from leg to leg and wiping sweat from my brow, I said, “Never mind. Just follow what your Waze tells and just please bring me to my destination.”
I hadn’t shouted at him. I hadn’t insulted him. But I’d been rude. I’d been frustrated, impatient, and impolite. I’d vomited “bad day vibes” all over him, then resorted to silence in a huff.
And I felt terrible about it.
“This was so un-The-Wandering-Dakini-like,” I thought. “I should be better than this.”
Should. There was that word again. What’s the worst thing you can do when you’re having a bad day? Pile on more reasons to feel even worse.
So I decided to give myself some break. Did the GrabTaxi driver deserve my attitude? Nope. Could I have been less impatient? Sure. Would it do any good to stress myself over it? Absolutely not.
The next day, after getting a better night’s sleep, I searched for my recent messages and texted the driver.
“Hello, I am not sure if you remember me but I was your passenger yesterday…”
He swiftly responded, “Ah, yes.”
I then asked if I could give him a call and he said it’s fine, so I did.
“Hello, sir. I was rude to you yesterday,” I said, “and I’m sorry.”
It felt strange and vulnerable to say this to a stranger, but I was sorry.
I was sorry because I imagine his job isn’t easy. And the sun was beating down on him too. And he didn’t get to run out when I did, to eat lunch, go home, and de-stress.
He was doing his job—and a good job at that—and I was sorry I treated him poorly.
“It’s okay,” he said. “I know how it is when you have an important appointment to attend to.”
“I was just having a really bad day,” I said, “and you were right. I should have instructed you which route to take.”
“It’s okay,” he said again. “We all have bad days.”
Where I stood just yesterday, feeling rude and guilty, I now stood feeling gentle and considerate. I doubt he knew it, but he gave me an amazing gift. He reminded me that my worst moment didn’t even have to define me.
I have the freedom to choose to do something differently. I could choose to take responsibility, admit my faults and accept the consequences, and do better today than yesterday.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to realize I’m a lot like that smartphone application “Waze—messy and far from perfect. I make mistakes. I’m not always very gentle or polite. Sometimes I let my feelings get the best of me. Sometimes I don’t deal with things very well.
But maybe these little messiness are big opportunities. Maybe the worst of humanity can give way to the best of us.
Maybe every moment of impoliteness is a good day waiting to happen. Okay, so that’s kind of corny, and maybe a little idealistic. And I realize there are certain scenarios when people are far harsher than I was, and far less understanding than the driver.
But I know next time I encounter someone who seems rude, I’ll remember how I felt that very day. I’ll keep in mind that I’m likely not seeing them at their best, but this, in any way, doesn’t define who they are.
Then I’ll look them in the eye and think to myself, “It’s okay. I understand how it is. We all have bad days.”
When we plant the seeds of what we really want in our lives, trust that in setting our intentions, love and patience out there; our dreams will eventually come true. What we put out and what we expect are EXACTLY what life will deliver to us. I want to share my favorite Zig Ziglar quote to inspire you as this month ends: “What you send out – comes back. What you sow – you reap. What you give – you get. What you see in others – exists in you. Remember, life is an echo. It always gets back to you.”