There are certain gifts that people can share with others that cost no money, require minimal time, and have an impact that is beneficial to more than one person. Examples of this can be found with acts of forgiveness, appreciation, gratitude, and kindness. These thoughtful acts allow better feelings and thoughts to be created in others.
It was only this morning when I realized how the absence of consideration can have the opposite effect creating negative thoughts in others. This may be because the good acts are a result of thoughts based on good intentions, and the thoughtless acts are unintentional and individual, without any thought, may not even know how they are the cause of stress and anxiety in others.
This epiphany came to me very early this morning, as I was caught in traffic entering an airline terminal. Originally, I had planned to pick up my mother last night at 8:00pm for her summer visit with us. Due to inclement weather, flights had been cancelled and rescheduled throughout the evening. My mother finally made it out of Florida and landed in New York at 1:30am. Presuming the traffic would be very light, I was surprised when I approached the airport and saw cars lined up as if parked in the right driving lane as I passed by in the left lane. I realized these were drivers waiting for arriving flights.
My surprise turned to shock when I realized further up that the left lane entering the terminal was also at a standstill for what seemed to be a mile long. Since I had time, I was able to remain calm, knowing the left lane would open up momentarily. After about 20 minutes, I began eyeing an escape route to the parking lot if there was no further movement once Mom’s plane landed. Others would not be so lucky, because they were trapped between the four foot cement walls along both sides of the road which I only noticed when I heard an ambulance way behind me.
Looking around, I noticed a driver behind me had left his car and was walking between the cars to see the cause of the hold up. Shortly after passing my car, I saw him go towards a car where he started talking and gesturing with his hands to move out of the way. On his way back, I learned that this car was parked in our lane waiting to squeeze into the illegal ‘standing’ lane on the right.
The frustration I had felt towards this inconsiderate driver grew when I realized how he was oblivious to the effect he had on all the cars behind him including an ambulance still blasting its siren still way behind me. The man in the street helped me to maneuver my car so I could pass the cars trapped between me and that car. I squeezed past it and drove along the empty lane ahead of me. Looking in my rear view mirror, I saw an exodus of cars behind me that seemed endless. I felt like a hero who had slayed a monster. We were freed!
It took me a couple of hours before I realized how the driver was not a monster. He was probably no different than the rest of us. Most likely, he too had to change his plans to arrange a different pickup time, he too was recovering from a hot day, and might even had to wake up four hours later to start his work day. There is a very good chance that he had no idea that the cars behind him could not see how he had left room for cars to pass him, nor do I think he had heard the ambulance. He was not a monster, he was only a person oblivious to his surroundings and focused on his needs.
The purpose of this story is not to criticize or berate one person but to draw attention on how the absence of thought by one person can cause a negative ripple effect in others that goes unnoticed by the “root” of the angst The lesson for me, which I share with you now, is to be aware of your surroundings, look around and recognize how we, as individuals, affect others sharing in our environment. An act of consideration may not be as obvious as other acts of love, but it can become a powerful and positive difference in the world.