Lately I’ve gotten better at seeing things from the other guy’s perspective. I don’t know if this is because I’ve been forced to confront my own mortality at an age that I wasn’t prepared to do so, or if it’s just because I’m getting older. I’m noticing that I am viewing the world more as an observer, rather than as a participant. I don’t personalize things as much. Life’s little daily incidents don’t matter anymore because other things have become more central in my world.
Like yesterday. I was driving to work (embarrassed to say how late) and had to turn left onto a busy street at an intersection clearly marked with a sign showing a mother crossing her child. It’s right before a school. In other words, a place to slow down. But this is Pikesville where drivers seem notoriously selfish and come around the bend at full speed, whizzing past that sign. It seemed that I had enough time to make the left turn, and so I did. I don’t know if the oncoming driver sped up (which I swear happens) or if I was just too slow. Or maybe I didn’t judge correctly. After all, I suffer from brain fog! So he lay on his horn, never slowing down. One hair and I wouldn’t be telling this story.
I was a bit shaken up. Then I was angry. “How dare he come speeding around so fast at this intersection?!” “How dare he not slow down when it was clear that I was moving?!” But almost immediately it occurred to me that I, too, come around that curve too fast every day. Not only that, but I would have been angry had I been speeding around the bend and another car decided to make the left turn that I had just made! So I finally resolved to slow down myself from here on. Had I not evaluated this situation fairly, I probably wouldn’t have changed my behavior.
We are so quick to justify our actions and blame others because it makes us feel better about what we did. But this only perpetuates our poor behavior. It is a very difficult thing to do, to honestly evaluate the other guy’s perspective, but not only does it squelch our anger, it improves our behavior.
I don’t know if it takes getting sick to start understanding these things or if others are just more mature in their understanding of things. I do know that I am grateful for my new perspective as a nonjudgemental observer!
Wishing the world more introspection…