Monday, December 29, 2014

Falling into a Pothole

For nearly three years now, I've been on a journey to live with less, to simplify and find happiness in the small things. Before becoming more intentional about the way I want to live, I thought about it a lot while reading anything and everything offering ways to pare down, to do without, to recycle and even upcycle. Along the way, I threw in anything and everything about Buddhism, at first out of curiosity but then because I found the teachings fit with how I want to continue with my journey. Most days the journey is smooth, with me considering others' ideas, needs, and wants and doing what I can to help. Other days, the journey's path becomes full of potholes that are difficult for me to maneuver. Sometimes, I even fall into a pothole. And while I climb out, brush myself off, and continue on, I do feel a bit bruised, which is how I'm feeling right now.

Today was beautiful. Sunny. Very little wind. I spent the morning reading then hanging out with Funny Delightful Son, thinking that after lunch I'd take our furry family members for a nice, long walk, which we did, going our usual route. Just over a half mile in, I could see a van parked on the sidewalk. Because there is no sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, I couldn't cross over to avoid the van. The only way around it was to go out into the street. I pulled the boys up short on their leashes, checked to be sure no cars were coming our way, then started around. When we neared the rear of the van, a man stepped out from where he'd been standing behind it and said, "Sorry." I didn't reply. I simply kept walking the dogs as what I hadn't been able to see was that there was a trailer hitched to the van, so we were in the street longer than I had thought we would be. I merely wanted to get beyond the trailer and back onto the sidewalk. A couple of steps beyond the man, I heard a snarky, "Gee, thanks."

I should have kept going. I should have focused on how lovely a day it was. But I didn't. I stopped. I turned. And I'm pretty sure I gave what my family calls "The Look," which is, so I've been told, like daggers being shot from my face.

That's when the man said, "What do you want me to do?"

"Move your van off the sidewalk," I said.

To this, the man gave me a dismissive wave of a hand and said, "Keep moving."

Before I could stop myself, before I could think things through, the pothole opened up and I fell in. I heard myself say, "You're an asshole." Yeah, not what I've been working towards for awhile now. Not even close.

His response? "You're a bitch." He gave another dismissive wave and again said, "Just keep moving."

As if I hadn't already blown out a tire on one pothole, I went ahead and blew out a second by hitting another pothole when I said, "Assholes who are also idiots tend to make me a bitch." With that, I turned and continued on. If anything else was said, I didn't hear it.

For most of the walk, I thought about this little incident and what I should have done. I should have just walked on, not stopping, not turning, not giving "The Look." I should have taken a deep breath in then let it out slowly. I should have reached forward and run my hands over the soft, silky coats of my beautiful dogs. When I thought about why I didn't do these things, it occurred to me that what bothered me most was the snarky "Gee, thanks" that was said because I didn't respond to his apology. I'm pretty sure he wanted me to say, "Oh, it's okay. Go ahead and park your van and trailer on the sidewalk as long as you want." I didn't say anything in response to his "sorry" because it wasn't okay that he was breaking the law by parking his van and trailer on the sidewalk. It wasn't okay that his action was forcing me and my dogs out into the street. And it definitely wasn't okay that he followed his "sorry" with a snarky comment designed to make me feel bad.

So, yeah, I fell into two potholes today. Not exactly what I had in mind when I set off for our walk, but it happened. Next time, and yes, I know there will be a next time, hopefully I'll do a much better job of avoiding the potholes and continue on my journey, skipping and smiling along the way.

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