Last week, I woke up, did my meditating, ate a solid breakfast, threw on a power outfit, and headed out my door. I had a nice little skip in my step. It was Wednesday. The early week sluggishness had worn off, the cobwebs torn away — I’m at peak productivity with a hefty amount of positive momentum. No coffee for me today, I think to myself. Yea! screw you, artificial enhancers. I’m going to crush this hump day, au naturale. Today. Today, is going to be a good day…
I walk out of my apartment building, and down the two blocks to my nearest metro stop. I’m naturally an extremely fast walker (sorry, all of my friends), and I never stand on an escalator. Must. Keep. Moving.
I reach the bottom of the escalator, and look up. I see an old woman standing directly in the middle. That’s fine though, I’ll politely say excuse me, throw a genuine smile at this crafty veteran and be on my way. But no. Not this morning. This morning is different.
I proceed up the escalator. At the same time I begin my ascent, I can hear my train slowing down at my stop. Time to hurry up a bit. I quickly reach the old woman half way up the long escalator. “Excuse miss, gotta catch that train,” I say with a hint of joy in my voice. Then, it happens.
Mother death turns, looks me directly in the eye while simultaneously stealing my soul as she blocked the entire surface of the escalator stair and says,
I’m immediately rendered speechless. She can’t step aside? I’m missing my train! How could she be so CRUEL? Do I scream at her? Do I cause a ruckus? What is this woman’s deal? What was her childhood like? What kind of harm did she cause her children??!
I look at her dumbfounded, step back, and hang my head in misery without a word. A million thoughts race through my head. I hear the “dingoo –dingoo” noise of the DC metro right before the doors shut and I’m forced to wait another 10 minutes for the next train.
INTERRUPTION: Please like ThereAreNoRoads Facebook Group!
The rest of my morning becomes consumed with thoughts. Was this woman right? Should I have really left earlier, or was some she some cruel human, hardened by her past, with her current job being only to drag people into the hot liquid tar that is her miserable life.
I thought for a long time about this. How could someone be so inconsiderate? It was legitimately boggling my mind.
Then, it hit me. These things happen all the time, just at different levels and degrees of perceived extremity. People walk slow. The stranger doesn’t say thank you when I hold the door. Someone’s listening to music I hate. (this happens a lot to a self-confessed music snob) The guy at the gym is grunting and yelling. That girl across the office is noticeably scowling at everyone who walks by. Chatty Kathy just, Will. Not. Shut. Up.
We all face everyday annoyances. Some are worse than others. Whether it be afro-grandma blocking our way up the escalator, or our boyfriend or girlfriend forgetting to grab the paper towels when running to the grocery store. The key in any situation is having an awareness of the deleterious effects of such absurdly insignificant occurrences.
With afro-grandma, I let my thoughts transform the pep in my step into a tensed up, stressed out version of my potentially happy self. Had I stepped back, laughed at the situation, and brushed it off as just another of life’s road bumps, it wouldn’t have affected my mood and overall disposition.
Adding to this thought, I turned to one of my favorite cliches: you truly never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Those two variables created a formula for life and dealing with the impending grandma death’s of my future:
Sympathy + Humor/Petty Annoyances = 0 (0 being the present moment, which of course = happiness)
I hope you like life arithmetic.
Live it, love it.