We’ve all been there … the freeway traffic slows to a crawl, and seconds tick by like hours as the mph indicator hesitates to rise above seven. We shift uncomfortably in our seats, change the radio station, roll our eyes and sigh heavily. Clearly, this inconvenience was created to make our day difficult. Dammit!
And then, suddenly, seven miles an hour seems too quick, as we pass the flashing lights and multicolored emergency vehicles. Sometimes, people are sitting on a hill or in the back of ambulances. Sometimes they are standing, glassy-eyed, staring at the twisted remains of their former mode of transportation. We all stare, destruction and grief fascinating everyone within eyeshot.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be humbled. As I pulled the truck into the parking spot in front of my son’s daycare home, I kicked the emergency brake into submission. (As far as I figured, it had it coming because I’d had a bad day at work, and had decided my truck owed me something.) As I turned the ignition off, I watched as two uniformed police officers walked toward two women. One woman yelled, and I took a moment to reflect on the situation, internally thinking to myself how differently I would act if approached by law enforcement. But then again, if someone is yelling at an officer, said yeller must have done something wrong … right?
As if in slow motion, the officer reached for the woman. Rather than grabbing her, he laid his hand on her bicep, and I watched as her face changed to a color Crayola wouldn’t dare create. She crumpled, as everyone watching on the street simultaneously shrunk. Over and over, she screamed “NO HE ISN’T,” and rocked the rhythmic rock of the distraught. Again we stared, but this time in disbelief. So many people aching with kind words and hugs for this woman we’d never met. The minutes ticked by, and we all stared at each other, silently tearing and thinking of our loved ones.
All night and this morning, my thoughts have gone toward my family and friends. I stopped on my way in and picked my coworkers up some coffee. I gave one of my supervisors a peanut butter cup I’d been hoarding. I didn’t flinch when someone told me to have a blessed day, and picked up slack I’d normally be pissy over.
Today (whatever today you may read this), hug your significant other. Play with your kids. Remember that work is work, traffic is traffic, bills are bills, but life is precious. Roll down your car window, turn up the radio, soak up the sun or the rain, because it makes no difference which it is. From now on, I’m going to take a moment to pay happiness forward, and remember that whatever it is, I can take it with a grain of salt. Because—flinch at the word or not—life is a blessing.