Smile, You’re On Candid…

Sometimes, Life's A Beach
Sometimes, Life's A...

Not sure I have to tell you it’s Sunday, and every Sunday, Central Pennsylvania’s Lorie Sheffer is our featured Guest Blogger. Take it away Lorie:

Last Friday was one of those days that was just so bad I sort of got the idea that I may be on Candid Camera. I spent the day visiting my Dad in the ICU. On the way home I saw a woman in a car hit a man on a motorcycle. When I got home my six-year-old fantail fish was dead, and then while I sat on my deck to relax my right eye turned bright red and swelled shut for no apparent reason. I told myself that things could have been worse, and that tomorrow would hopefully be better.

Saturday morning there was a public auction being held next door, and it was distracting and sort of fun. My doorbell rang around 10 AM, and I answered it wearing my leopard print pajamas, a horrific case of bed head and a still slightly wonky eye. A lady who was about the same age as my mother was standing on my doorstep. Shaking and near tears, she told me that she had just run over my mailbox. I laughed. I told her about the lady who hit the man on the motorcycle the day before, and said that the mailbox was just a thing that could be repaired or replaced. She offered to give me her name and pay for the damages, but my husband and I told her to just go to the auction and have a good time. It was then that she told us her circumstances. She never put a dent in her car in her life, but her husband was admitted to the ICU over five weeks before, and she had decided that maybe a beautiful summer day at an auction would take her mind off of her situation for a few hours. Her nerves were shot and she just wasn’t functioning normally. Her husband was in a room just across the hall from my dad.

The economy isn’t great and we get to see millions of gallons of oil pumping out into the Gulf every day, with no end in sight. We have troops in dangerous places. With all the big deals going on, it would be easy to feel pushed over the edge by the small stuff. But maybe this is the perfect time when we need to recognize those minor irritations exactly for what they are: no big deal. In the grand scheme of things, who cares? Perhaps we need to think before we lash out. Sure, that guy who cuts you off in traffic may be a giant jerk. But maybe you would feel a bit less anger if you heard his story. I remember a day last winter when a man screamed at me at the top of his lungs in line at the grocery store. My crime? I was in the “12 items or less only” line. I apologized to him, telling him that I very honestly didn’t see the sign, and that my mind wasn’t focused because I had just come from being with my seriously ill brother. He continued to scream at me, and I stood there in full view of the now very attentive crowd and started to sob. His tirade continued while I was loading my groceries into my trunk. Now that I think about it, I worry for him. I wonder what his issues were. People who handle stress by acting out in anger over what amounts to nothing must certainly be putting themselves at risk for heart attacks, strokes and God knows what else.

We all have those candid camera days. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, when someone does something that irritates us, we would react with some compassion? Even if their life is going incredibly well and they are just an obnoxious jerk, I’m sure they will be taken aback by the more Zen reaction. Added bonus? We didn’t allow them to cause us more stress. I wonder what would have happened had the man, who was so enraged by my grocery store faux pas, pulled into traffic in anger and a motorcycle had been in his path?

By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.