Parking Outside the Lines

As my day was winding down last Saturday, I hastily pulled into a very empty parking lot outside a grocery store. In a rush to pick up my son, I threw the car into park and ran into the store.  When I came outside, I found this note on my car:

THANK YOU

YOU INCONSIDERATE BASTARD

NEXT TIME PARK IN BETWEEN THE LINES

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I took a deep breath and asked myself, what message is the person who wrote this note sending me? I hear you laughing. I mean pretty obvious, right? I looked at my tires. Perhaps I was a bit over the line, but not by much. And the parking lot was empty. This note was not about me.

As I got in my car, I began to wonder what this person’s life has been like that he needed to take the time to write a note like that and stick it on my car. Who was he yelling at, really? Who had invaded his space? Who was the inconsiderate bastard?

Driving away with the note gripped between my hands and the wheel, I thought about a life teaching that says people are showing you where their pain is when they lash out at you. They are actually screaming for you to help. If you can appreciate this, give them a compliment or just acknowledge them you will help them tremendously. In my opinion, a much better alternative to screaming back, right? So was I holding a reminder of this lesson?

Perhaps.

When I got home, I went back to the note and was struck suddenly by his first words: Thank you. While he may have written this with sarcasm at heart, maybe not. Perhaps he was really thanking me for allowing him to vent. What if I had given him the perfect opportunity. What if that is what we are here in life to do – help each other unleash our buried emotions so we can all breathe easier? Today we are the windshield and tomorrow, the bug.

The note didn’t seem half as bad all of a sudden.  In fact it felt like a blessing in disguise.  I was about to toss it when I was reminded about a friend of mine who had been going through a challenge over the past few weeks. She had turned inward and quiet, and this had caused me to feel helpless. The more I tried to help, the more she withdrew. So, I kept trying.  She is not a yeller, but if she was, I bet she would have yelled, THANK YOU, YOU INCONSIDERATE BASTARD!

Have I been invading her space? I have certainly not been staying within the lines. And because I did not get it at the time, some very considerate gentleman helped me out by dropping a not so subtle hint on my windshield.

So, while I was helping out the person who wrote the note, was he not also helping me? Can we not in every interaction be both the windshield and the bug?

I have driven enough to know that receiving a note on your windshield is not unique. We have all been told off in traffic. But what if we all saw anger as a blessing, knowing in some way, we were helping that person?  And what if we needed help back?  Were we speeding?  Distracted?  What if at that moment we needed to slow down, put down the phone, get out of our heads?

If we are always here to help each other, there is never any reason for anyone to feel like we have done something wrong, or to judge another.  No reason for guilt, blame or hatred.  The next time you receive a ticket for speeding from a police man, he may have been saving your life, averting an accident.  Detoured by traffic, life put you out of harms way of a falling tree limb.

When life does not seem harmonious or when something pulls us out of your normal routine, if we stop to pause, there may is a message there. An opportunity to help, make a difference.  Just beyond our frustration, lies a beautiful garden of understanding, forgiveness and grace.  Perhaps next time we get rear ended or told off at a sporting event, even quietly to ourselves, we can say, thank you.

I know I am saying thank you to the beautiful person who left the note on my car. For, we never met but we indeed helped each other out. We are truly all connected, if by nothing else, than by simply being human.  Just being ourselves is all we need to do to begin to change the world, one note at a time.

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