You know those days that make you feel like you’re walking outside on a soap opera set? The sky is the color of a robin’s egg, the air feels fresh and smells like autumn. That was today.
Unfortunately, the picture-perfect weather didn’t prevent two people in their cars at an intersection from fighting. My car idled just behind one of the cars as the drama unfolded.
One man got out of his truck. I couldn’t hear him, but his arms were flailing. The other man got out of his car, a menacing expression with some kind of metal pipe in his hand.
My stomach and shoulders tensed up, and I felt a prickly heat across my chest.
My teenaged son beside me looked calm, gazing at the scene before us with the aura of a modern-day Yoda.
“Mm…I wonder who got there first.” He said with the pondering stillness of a Buddha.
The men were standing close to each other now. The tension between them fierce.
This is how it happens. Death by stray bullet. Gunfight at intersection, news at 11…
The above is where my mind went. I felt a strong, irrational urge to tell my son to duck.
“It doesn’t really matter who got there first,” I said.
And just like that, the angry men returned to their cars, and we made our way to the intersection, the tense moment behind us.
Hours later, I am thinking about today’s tense moment. In a way, I wasn’t much different than these angry men: I wasn’t enjoying the beautiful day, I was lost in a moment of what if anxiety—another flavor of negative emotion. It was only my son who could observe the scene without taking it in.
We go through our daily lives, exposed to a myriad of “angry intersections”—moments when our environment is tense. At those moments, we can observe but we don’t need to react or become the stressors around us. Easier said than done. My son helped me realize that I’d stopped observing and started reacting; his non-reactive reaction reminded me that we all have this choice within us.
When we try to detach and observe—even the negative reactions around and within us—we spend more time living in the moment. We can enjoy the beautiful day without getting sucked into another’s angry intersection.