There was a time in my life when my anger management skills were, let’s just say, less than what they could have been. I often allowed people and situations to dictate my moods and responses. Not surprisingly, such impassioned reactions did not serve me well. In recent years, however, I have been able to keep my anger in check. In fact, rarely, if ever now, do I experience anger at all. I might find myself feeling frustrated, disappointed, annoyed, or even outraged, but no longer do these feelings manifest themselves in the form of anger.
Kathy has observed this transformation, and mentioned one day that the change seems to have corresponded to the unexpected death of my father in 2008. I cannot say for certain, but I don’t think that was the factor which led to this change in my life. Two years prior to my Dad’s death, I attended a retreat on the topic of gratitude at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos. I’m pretty sure that it was there that things began to change. Along with my increased awareness of gratitude, or possibly because of it, I found that I was able to handle stressful people and situations with a greater level of patience, acceptance, and even compassion. This metamorphosis has been an absolute blessing to me and to those around me.
There is one thing, however, which still causes me a fair amount of angst. My calm demeanor can be put to the test when I see people around me texting while driving.
It’s been seven years since the Honda Odyssey I was driving was broadsided by a gentleman in a brand new Porsche Boxter who blew through a red light at the intersection of Lawrence Expressway and Moorpark Avenue in San José. I will never know for sure, but there is a very good chance that he was preoccupied with texting, which caused him to disregard the red light. That experience, combined with my own daily observations of people texting while driving, has left me with a lingering resentment which has been difficult to overcome.
How many times have I been waiting in a left-turn lane only to notice that a driver in front of me is texting when the light turns green — and it’s my car that doesn’t make it to the intersection before the light turns red again? How many times have I noticed, through my rear-view mirror, that the driver behind me is texting, causing me to worry that I will get rear-ended? How many times have I witnessed bicyclists or pedestrians nearly killed by drivers who were distracted by their cell phone? Too many — to all of the above.
So where is the gratitude in this? I am grateful that I have not yet been killed by a distracted driver. I am grateful that I have the self-discipline to refrain from using my cell phone for texting or conversing while driving. I am grateful for other drivers who also have the maturity to realize that texting while driving puts themselves and those around them in great danger. My focus on gratitude, however, has not completely overcome the negativity I feel towards those who text while driving. It seems that gratitude and anger have learned to dance to the music of the day.