I wanted the driver who cut me off to crash and burn.
For a brief moment, I thought of praying that he would immediately die for cutting in front of me as I was doing 60-miles-an-hour on the expressway behind a car just five lengths in front of me. I beeped my horn and flashed my high beams at the driver. I relished in the hatred I felt burning inside of me. I loathed him from the bottom of my heart and wanted a bloody accident to befall ‘em.
Oh my God. What are you doing Michael J? You want peace and calm in your world but only when it’s convenient to you – when you’re alone or with like-minded people. Once you face the hustle and the bustle of people with little concern for you, you become that son-of-a-bitch you claim you’re so far above because of the loving compassion you want to provide others. You’re a hypocrite when the rubber actually hits the road during those stressful moments you still blame on PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.)
Those moments occur more and more frequently on the road since you retired. It is on an expressway of life that you face your most stressful entanglements nowadays.
Remember two days earlier when you experienced a flashback to the Vietnam War? You were driving to center city Philadelphia and felt you were in a firefight. Your heart sped up, your breathing increased rapidly and your hands were sweating as you maneuvered through the traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway. You barely escaped injury by steering to the far lane of the four-lane highway and found an opening for several hundred feet as you sped up weaving from lane to lane. You were rushing to a spiritual gathering, one you were late for a week earlier, and you didn’t want to be shamefully late again.
You wanted to stop all traffic at that moment. All of life. You wanted to bring to an end all involvement outside of your home, outside of your safe and secure cave. You wanted to withdraw and have nothing to do with anything outside of that safe and secure womb.
And then it dawned on you. All you wanted was happiness and for all others to be happy as you recalled the prayer learned from one of the Buddhist teaching.
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
May they never be separated from the happiness which knows no suffering.
May they live in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.*
The motorist was not free from attachments. You were not free from aversions. You both wanted the same thing in life but neither one quite knew how to obtain it.
You immediately forgave the driver. Who knows what was going through the person’s mind or suffering they felt? We’ve all been in similar situations rushing for some all-important meeting or to avoid some illusory mind-created catastrophe.
You then forgave yourself and felt the heat of anger begin to dissipate on the road.
Here’s hoping that you can repeat this exercise the next time you travel this way.
(The Four Immeasurables: Immeasurable Love, Immeasurable Compassion,
Immeasurable Joy, Immeasurable Equanimity)